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Philosophical Differences

A guest blog post generously shared by Keith Jordan:

I have been involved in resisting gender ideology for a long time (my first run-in came during my teaching career in 2010, whcn I objected to being told to lie about the sex of a new student). Things ramped up when my daughter started to identify as a transman in 2015. With the dearth of information back then, I was moved to establish a parent peer support group in the UK in 2018. In late 2019, the group I founded split into two factions (which became Our Duty and Bayswater). This was the first time I had encountered ideological division within the movement. At its simplest, Our Duty rejected the affirmative model of care, as others were ‘cautious’ about it. I was adamant the NHS was unsafe, while others took a different view. My vindication brings me no succour; I just wish I had been more persuasive at the point when it mattered.

In the last five years, we have seen more and more ‘gender critical’ groups emerge. By and large, this looks like a good thing. But is it?

One key turning point for me was when we challenged the executive board and board of governors at the Tavistock Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) in London in 2019. Parents told those present that the GIDS and Gender Identity Center were harming our children. That the adolescent cohort (mainly girls) should not be treated the same way as pre-pubescent boys and middle aged men upon whom almost all available research had been centered. That there was no way of diagnosing who would persist. That our children had underlying conditions that made them susceptible. That there were no longitudinal studies into the adolescent cohort. Our entreaties were ignored by the Tavistock board (and the board was most upset we got our story in The Sunday Times), Strict adherence to the scientific method meant there there was also no published, peer-reviewed, high-quality evidence to support our claims. And it is around this point that I think we have a problem.

Jack Drescher, in a letter to The New York Times, had written in 2013 that we have no way of knowing who would persist and who would desist and consequently what became known as the ‘affirmative model of care’ was controversial. We always knew that social affirmation led to physical harm. Now, what seems to be holding everything up is the need by many to have this knowledge confirmed in a peer-reviewed paper, or by the Cass Review Interim Report, before it is given any credence. And every single day we delay results in buckets filled with adolescent breasts.

If we see a building burning down, are we going to wait for an academic paper to be published that examines whether the outcome was negative or positive for the regeneration of the community, with how many who died by smoke inhalation or unsurvivable burns a secondary analysis? Or are we going to call the fire brigade and see if there is anything that can be done in the here and now?

We all know that academic research on transgender ideation is virtually impossible to get published because of the woke capture of academia. There is a high chance it might get compromised on its way through such gatekeeping. And in any case, such research will lag observations by years.

There is scientific research, albeit of low quality, that seems to indicate that transgender ideation might be attributable to neurological or endocrinal differences. Even if such research were unequivocal and of high-quality, it should not point to a recognition of transgenderism as a human characteristic. Instead it should be used to identify effective treatment pathways to eliminate the ideation. Because the ideation leads to unnecessary harm (even if you want to qualify that by adding ‘to those who detransition’, and I do not).

As I see it, the problems facing us are as follows:

  1. Trite facts are not given due weight (e.g. transition is a lie)

  2. Observations are not given due weight (e.g. kids are being harmed)

  3. Research is too slow and too patchy, (and is a poor excuse for delay).

  4. The scientific method is placed above the alleviation of human suffering

It is this last point that drives me. Transgender ideation leads to human suffering. To end that suffering we must prevent transgender ideation. Prevention is better than cure, and cure is better than lifelong treatment. Trite facts need to be given more weight.

We prevent transgender ideation by erasing the notion that being transgender is a human attribute worthy of recognition and protection in law. When it ceases to be a valid lifestyle choice, fewer people will latch onto it.

We cure transgender ideation by helping its sufferers reconnect with reality. You are your sex. Learn to love the body nature gave you. Get into nature. Stop ruminating. Ditch the internet and connect with real people who will not humour any delusions.

If you are concerned with the alleviation of human suffering, then I hope you can see that only by rejecting the lie of transgenderism can we protect adolescents from irreversible damage and their parents from lifelong grief.

If one does not recognise the importance and the challenges posed by the problems I describe, then one is going to be unnecessarily equivocal about what needs to be done. My dream is for there to be no people identifying as transgender. Transgender ideation is, like suicidal ideation, a maladaptive coping mechanism and one which any professional working in the field should wish to see their patient reject for the inappropriate solution is presents.

Which brings me back to ideological differences. What I have described above, is a logical combination of objective truth and moral rectitude - first do no harm. I should also add the precautionary principle "if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it." There is a branch of logic and ethics, which ties these things together - it is called deontology. Deontology, as an ethical and moral framework, emphasises the inherent rightness or wrongness of actions based on adherence to moral rules or duties. It is why Our Duty is called Our Duty.

An alternative approach might take a look at the consequences of one’s actions and weigh up the utility of making a decision based on predicted outcomes. Even then, the amputation of healthy genitalia would seem contrary to the rightness of the deontic approach. Some others might call upon beneficence - the perceived good that the affirmative model is said to deliver, or the human right to bodily autonomy (ignoring the problems around informed consent) in an attempt to discern the right course of action. Some might point to the need to be pragmatic, and only focus on what they perceive to be possible. Even so, I struggle to find any justification for being cautious about denouncing the affirmative model, nor any cause to deny the urgency of our burning building. I should also point out that I do not reject the scientific method, and indeed I am all in favour of it; we just need it to be faster, free from political interference, more comprehensive, and focused on the search for the truth.

The reason I have been moved to write this article is that there are some people who think that medical interventions for some adolescents with transgender ideation are justified. They think that some people might benefit from a lifetime living a lie, medicalised to possible sterility and premature death or infirmity. It is my view that the only just reason for thinking this way is a slavish adherence to the scientific method, to the primacy of published research, and to the profoundly respectable honesty in saying “well, we just don’t know”.

But we do know. So what I am saying is that I am an atheist when it comes to transgenderism, and others are agnostic. For many of them, their agnosticism is a perfectly logical position to take.

My social media heading uses a picture that alludes to Bertrand Russell’s teapot. One might assert that there is a teapot in orbit around the sun, but we can neither prove it nor disprove it. Instead we must look at the probability of such an assertion being true.

Another common philosophical argument is that embodied in Pascal’s Wager. When something is unprovable then we must gamble based on our knowledge of the expected outcomes. Blaise Pascal used this to suggest that it is better to believe in God than not. What happens when we apply this mode of thinking to a belief in the transgender person?

In conclusion, we are obliged to pursue the truth, but when we do not know it we cannot abrogate its discovery to others. We must apply our knowledge, our logic, our morality, and our instincts to asserting what we know to be right. This, though, is not some act of faith - teapot or God. A great many of the unknowns are known to us on the ground, with skin in the game; they are just not known to the high priests of academia. Those of us calling for reality or duty or the truth to prevail, do not claim to know everything. Even if all our knowledge was accepted as canon tomorrow, there will still be gaps.

But we know enough. This is just a call to have our observations, ethics and logic afforded their due. The sensible gamble is that transgender people do not exist (as a diagnosable category worthy of recognition in law), and neither does the teapot. Team Reality has always been ahead of its time. We need help developing and propagating this wisdom. Your help to alleviate the human suffering caused by transgender ideation, whatever you choose to do, will benefit mankind.

This blog post originally appeared on Keith Jordan's Substack.

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