The Briefing, Albert Mohler

Thursday, October 1, 2020

This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

It’s Thursday, October 1, 2020. I’m Albert Mohler, and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.

Part I

The World Turned Upside Down: The “Inclusive”—And Incoherent—Sexual Revolution Comes to Japan Airlines

In so many ways, it is as if the world is being turned upside down, and no revolution in scale or in scope comes close to the transgender revolution enforcing change throughout the society. Christians understand that that is inevitable because even as God created human beings in his image and made us male and female, trying to change that or overcome that or deny that can only have both comprehensive and catastrophic consequences. A series of articles and developments makes that very clear. For example, just in recent days, the New York Times reports that Japan Airlines says that it’s no longer going to use the words “ladies and gentlemen” in in-flight announcements for its English-speaking service. As reporters, Tiffany May, and Hisako Ueno report for the New York Times, “Japan Airlines said it would retire the phrase ‘ladies and gentlemen’ from in-flight announcements made in English, a symbolic step toward inclusivity in a country where activists have long fought to change entrenched gender traditions.”

Now, this is a story that is datelined from Japan and after all it’s about Japan Airlines, but it’s also extremely interesting how this story is being presented. Because even as we’re told that this is “a symbolic step towards inclusivity,” well, wait just a minute. How can it be more inclusive not to refer to human beings as ladies and gentlemen, but instead simply to say, “hello, everyone,” as goes on now in the London underground? Everyone’s inclusive, I guess, of everyone, but this is a kind of inclusion that actually creates a mono identity.

And here’s where we see the rebellion against the creation order to the extent that you can’t even use honorific or polite titles such as ladies and gentlemen, because evidently there may be those who are not either ladies or gentlemen. And in that I don’t mean in terms of character, but rather in terms of the modern construct of gender identity, but there’s actually even more to this story that’s very interesting if you understand that this is about Japan Airlines, and that means it’s about Japan.

So does this mean that in Japan gender stereotypes are breaking down? No, the New York Times article makes very clear, Japan is an extremely traditionalist society. This isn’t a change that has anything to do with the breakdown of so-called gender stereotypes in Japan and has everything to do with Japan Airlines wanting to do business in the English speaking world, particularly in the United States. And that means giving a tip of the hat and indeed an absolute surrender to the transgender revolutionaries.

And we’re going to see this business by business, corporation by corporation and eventually at least we are told culture by culture. The New York Times reports “The announcement appeared to be the first for a Japanese carrier as airlines and subway systems around the world had been phasing out gender specific language in recent years. Mark Morimoto, a Japan Airlines spokesman said on Tuesday”–wait just a minute- “spokesman?” That’s not very inclusive.

The word “man” is in spokesman as in a male, but let’s pass over that for a minute. We were told that he said that greetings and announcements in English “at the airport and in the cabin would use gender-neutral language such as “all passengers” or “everyone” — or avoid gender-specific phrases altogether.” Now wait just a minute. How can it say all passengers or everyone and then, or avoid gender specific phrases altogether? Let’s just point out the obvious, all passengers and everyone is not gender-specific in any way.

Mr. Morimoto, the spokesman for Japan Airlines said, “We aspire to be a company where we can create a positive atmosphere and treat everyone, including our customers with respect.” We’re then told “The airline’s small, some might say token step toward more gender inclusive language is effectively targeted at non-Japanese passengers.”

Then the explanation, “Japan remains a conservative country in which the lawmakers have resisted recognizing same-sex marriage, even as public support has soared.” Now again, does anyone actually read these articles? Are there any editors that work here? We’re being told that Japan remains a conservative country and then that’s explained supposedly by the fact that lawmakers have resisted recognizing same-sex marriage, even as public support has soared.

Well, the public support has soared for same-sex marriage. It’s really not a traditionally conservative society. Something’s not being carefully argued here, but it’s basically just a matter of argumentation for whatever it’s worth to offer a rationale for the LGBTQ revolution. I have to be honest, when I read that particular sentence in this report in yesterday’s edition of the New York Times, I just wanted to call up the paper and say of the multiple phrases in that sentence, which if any, do you actually believe in because no coherent mind can believe in them all.

There’s another interesting reference here in terms of cultural history “The global aviation industry was seen as a strict enforcer of traditional gender roles through exacting requirements for female flight attendants. They had to wear makeup, high heels and skirts. In the early years, fight attendance also had weight requirements. Female pilots were rare.”

Well, that’s actually true. And it’s true in a way that was genuinely unique to the airline industry. There was a certain form of enforced sexism, even within the airline industry. And it came with something of a wink and a nod to illicit sexual behavior. But nevertheless, Japan Airlines is making headlines for the fact that there will be no more ladies and gentlemen in the English language now on Japan Airlines fights, ladies and gentlemen, you are no longer welcome.

Part II

Despite Proposals Under Theresa May’s Government, the UK Won’t Move Forward with Allowing Individuals to Self-Identify Gender

The second issue takes us to London where the British government has announced that it is going to drop efforts to try to allow gender self-identification for transgender people. Now, I reported on this issue from the United Kingdom just about exactly a year ago, and it comes down to this, the UK government, the conservative government, then under Prime Minister Theresa May was trying to join the transgender revolution.

One of the footnotes here is that the conservative party in Britain is not very conservative at all on these moral and social issues, such as gender and sexuality marriage, you go down the list, but nonetheless, under Theresa May, the party was trying to join the transgender revolution and that meant the British government and their parliamentary system by allowing people to self-identify whatever their gender was without any necessity of any kind of medical examination or any kind of proof for that matter.

But as of a year ago, Theresa May’s government had fallen and a new conservative government under prime minister Boris Johnson was in place and already that government was suggesting that it was going to be very difficult to turn, to allow all the citizens of Britain to self-identify by gender, because that would mean absolute chaos within the society. It also ran head on into other issues. For example, every government has to identify who is within a protected class and who is not in Britain as in the United States in some categories, females that would mean adult women are in a protected class.

Now the point is, if you can declare yourself in and out or in and out and in and out again of a protected class, it’s very difficult to maintain any kind of law. And of course there’s more to it than that. When it just comes down to birth certificates and entrance papers into colleges and universities, when it comes down to the kind of identification that someone carries, there is no government on earth that can allow people just to say, I’m going to go this time with gender (A), I’m going to go next time with gender (B).

But now as Simon Murphy and Libby Brooks are reporting for The Guardian, that’s a very liberal newspaper in London: “Plans to allow people to officially change gender without a medical diagnosis are not being adopted by Downing Street, which is instead cutting the cost of applying for a gender recognition certificate as part of moves to revamp the process.” Now, remember when you say Downing Street with reference to British politics, it’s like saying the White House when it comes to American politics.

So when they say Downing Street says, that really means on behalf of the Prime Minister, the same way in the United States when it is said that the white house says, that’s on behalf of the president and the administration. So now you have Boris Johnson’s government saying it turns out this wasn’t such a good idea after all. It turns out it’s largely impossible to make this happen.

The organization known as Stonewall in the United Kingdom, that’s an LGBTQ activist organization was disappointed in the announcement, “It’s a shocking failure in leadership that after three years and a robust public consultation, the UK government has put forward only minimal administrative changes to improve the process for legal gender recognition of trans people in England and Wales.”

The organization went on to say, “While these moves will make the current process less costly and bureaucratic, they don’t go anywhere near far enough toward meaningfully reforming the act to make it easier for all trans people to go about their daily life.” Now, you also had another group that is known as mermaids identified as “A charity that supports young trans people,” that organization “Raised concerns that none of the proposals offered help to those under the age of 18.”

But here’s where we need to understand the scope of what’s being demanded here. And I mentioned mermaids because yes, they are demanding that persons, even as miners have the opportunity to change their gender whenever they demand. And furthermore, there’s more to it than that because the National Health Service there in Britain, which is their nationalized medical service, is also now offering transgender responses, including so-called sexual reassignment surgery.

The article tells us, “In an attempt to combat lengthy NHS waiting lists for transgender people, the government said that it was opening three new gender clinics this year.” Spokesperson said she was “Deeply concerned at the distress the long waiting list could cause and the move should result in them being cut by about 1,600 patients by 2022.” Again, this is not just a demand that you must recognize me as the gender in which I identify there in Britain. It is also the demand that the taxpayer would pay for gender or sexual reassignment surgery or in what they’re now calling in a politically correct way, gender realignment surgery.

But at the end of this article, there’s a really interesting sentence, listen to this, “Critics of the concept of self-identification welcomed the announcement.” Fair Play For Women, which argued that the reform would significantly undermine women’s sex-based rights, described it as “A fair decision balancing the rights of all trans people and women,” adding that “today marks a fresh approach to all policies on sex and gender. The government has acknowledged women are stakeholders too, and policies must fairly balance the conflicting rights of trans people and women.”

Now we’ve often talked about the inevitable collision between the sexual revolution and the issue of religious liberty, but we’re also looking at the fact that there’s another inevitable collision, which is between the trans gender revolution and feminism. Or you could even say any effort to try to identify women as a class, even a protected class in the law. You can have the one, or you could have the other, you can’t have the transgender ideology and the ideology of feminism.

Part III

The Inevitable Collision of Transgender Ideology and Feminism: Feminists Speak Out Against Gender Dysphoria Harming Women

And interestingly, thirdly, we turn again to an article in The Guardian, this one by Susanna Rustin, the headline is this, “Feminists like me aren’t anti-trans, we just can’t discard the idea of sex.” And in this case they mean sex as male or female. Now just imagine that you can rewind human history, you don’t have to go very far back to reach a point in which no one understands what this headline means, but the subhead is this, if we replace sex with gender, as a way of thinking about ourselves, it will be harder to tackle sex-based oppression.

Now, of course it will. It’s going to be very difficult even to have a conversation about what feminists have called sex-based oppression or discrimination because sex disappears as a meaningful category, that is sex as in male or female. Now, Susanna Rustin is a pretty well-known feminist there in the UK and she writes, “Why am I writing this now? Because,” she says, “recent events have forced me, like many others, to think much harder than I have been used to about feminism. The immediate cause is a conflict of opinion about transgender activism and the reasons behind an increase in the number of girls referred for treatment for gender dysphoria in England, from 32 in 2009/10 to 1,740 in 2018/19. But,” she went on to say, “debate about these issues has exposed a faultline with wider implications.” Now, this is really fascinating because this is not merely a collision between the trans gender revolutionaries and the feminist. It’s a feminist saying something’s wrong when the number of adolescent girls in Great Britain referred for treatment for gender dysphoria rises from 32 just a matter of 10 years ago to 1,740.

Now in the United Kingdom, there’s been a lot of attention to the fact that there is some kind of social contagion going on, particularly among young women, even more particularly among adolescent girls who are claiming gender dysphoria. It has a social context, which means there are inordinate breakouts of this kind of dysphoria, as it’s diagnosed in certain places at certain times. If it were not sociological, then you would have an even distribution throughout the society.

Something clearly is going on here. And I’ll just go on and offer, controversial though this assertion is, that there is a social benefit now to many persons claiming a transgender identity. If nothing more, they are applauded, they are supported, they gain attention. And there are a number of women and advocates for women, there are a number of feminists who think that’s an extremely dangerous situation into which many young women have now been placed.

But there you see that collision. The feminists are saying these are young women and we are concerned about them. The transgender revolution says you really can’t call them young women anymore because they don’t consider themselves young women. Now, at this point, I want to mention a very important book recently published here in the United States. It’s by Abigail Shrier and the title of the book is Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters.

Now that’s a controversial title to be sure. And this title has met with enormous opposition. The book has been opposed by the LGBTQ revolutionaries and they have brought political pressure upon online sales platforms and others to try to reduce the visibility of the book and Abigail Shrier herself has been the subject of de-platforming efforts here in the United States. We’ll be looking more at that story, but again, just consider the fact that here you have a book published in the United States and Shrier by the way, is a graduate of Columbia College and also holds a law degree from Yale Law School.

And she refers in the United States to a contagion, in her words, the transgender craze seducing our daughters. It’s also interesting to note that this is far more now a sociological phenomenon when it comes to young women rather than young men. But wait, just a minute. We’re talking in rational terms here about young women and young men. And you might say young ladies and young gentlemen, but you won’t be saying that at Japan Airlines.

Susanna Rustin also is an intellectual there in the United Kingdom, as well as a feminist. And she refers to some of the developments in critical theory that have led to the transgender revolution in particular to the concept of intersectionality as pioneered by Kimberlé Crenshaw here in the United States and also Judith Butler who argues that the categories of men and women shouldn’t be seen as actually tied to ontological or biological reality, but rather should be understood to be discursive concepts.

In her words, “A process of materialization that stabilizes over time.” If you don’t understand that, it is because you do understand the English language, it’s ideological nonsense, but it’s also ideological nonsense that won’t stay in the realm of ideology. And that’s the danger. Ideology almost never does. It also won’t stay in the United Kingdom. It has shown up just in recent days in the American state of California, I guess you’re not so surprised.

Part IV

Governor Gavin Newsom Welcomes the Transgender Revolution into California’s Prison System: The Promises of the Sexual Revolution Can’t Be Kept

As Edward Moreno reports for The Hill, a Washington DC news source, “Gavin Newsom signs law allowing transgender inmates to be placed in prison by their gender identity.” Now we talked about this law when it was hypothetical there in California, but it didn’t stay hypothetical, even as ideologies don’t stay as just ideas, they take concrete shape. And in this case, it’s now a law signed into effect by Gavin Newsom, the democratic governor of California that says that in the intake process, individuals who are being sent to prison will be interviewed about their own gender identity. And they can make the case that they should be assigned to either a men’s or a women’s prison based upon their own self-identification on the basis of gender.

Now, I talked about this story when it was proposed legislation, precisely because it’s irrational. You can’t actually talk about men’s prisons and women’s prisons, unless you have some very clear idea about who is a man and who is a woman. Once you change that you have a men’s prison, but there are actually women in them, but it’s actually going to be far more the case that there are women’s prisons, but there will be men in them, people who are biologically male, and even as you have the feminists and other advocates or women saying women need and deserve special protections, including being kept separate from men in confinement.

Now you have the transgender revolutionary saying, oh, we’re going to overcome that by putting people who are biologically male in prisons for women, because you’ve got to bow to our revolution. Feminists are going to have to take a back seat. Indeed, women are going to just have to allow the fact that there are going to be men in confinement with them in California prisons. The actual article by Edward Moreno at The Hill includes some pretty interesting if troubling language, for example, in signing the bill, Gavin Newsom said, “California has some of the strongest pro LGBTQ+ laws in the nation and with the bills signed today, our march toward equality takes an additional step forward.”

It’s the kind of moralistic language that Gavin Newsom has been using ever since he jumped onto the nation’s consciousness as a very liberal mayor of San Francisco, actually performing illegal same-sex marriages. But now he is the state’s governor. He went on to state “These new laws will help us better understand the impacts of COVID-19 on the LGBTQ community, establish a new fund to support our transgender sisters and brothers.” By the way, how can you say transgender sisters and brothers again, you’re saying sisters, you’re saying brothers, you’re using that old language.

Hello, Japan Airlines, you not only can’t say “ladies and gentlemen,” you really can’t say “sisters and brothers,” but the governor went on to say that the legislation would “advance inclusive and culturally competent efforts that uphold the dignity of all Californians, regardless of who you are or who you love.” That’s the type of over the top language, moralistic language of the sexual revolution that we come to expect from certain places in the United States, from cultural authorities, from Hollywood and yes from the governor of California.

But this is also the kind of language that Christians need to understand offers false promises. To put it into another kind of language, the governor is writing checks he can’t cash. He can’t deliver on the promises that this legislation is supposed to fulfill with the state of California, basically reaching some new kind of utopia beyond gender, beyond sexual rules, beyond marriage, as the union of a man and a woman. But I also have to note the nearly bizarre fact, in fact, it’s not nearly bizarre, it’s just bizarre that the governor of California, yes, the governor of California that has handed down such draconian laws against churches meeting and most importantly, this means discrimination against churches in which there is an allowance for people to meet in other context, and to gather according to different rules, this is the same Gavin Newsom who has handed down those draconian and oppressive rules.

This is the same governor who now tells us that this new law, having to do with people in the prison intake system, declaring whether they are male or female by their gender identity and demanding to be in the respective prison, not according to biology, but according to their gender identity, he began this paragraph by telling us that this law will now “help us better understand the impacts of COVID-19 on the LGBTQ+ community.”

Now there may be more to this legislation that meets the eye. But one of the things we have to note here is that you have many liberal and progressive political leaders in the United States who are clearly grabbing hold of COVID-19 as an opportunity to further an agenda that actually has nothing to do with any kind of temporary fight against an aggressive virus and a pandemic.

It’s a matter of irony and dark humor to say that Gavin Newsom is so liberal in California, that he makes citizens there long for the good old days of the extremely liberal governor, Jerry Brown, who was known at least in his first two terms as governor Moonbeam. It says a lot that governor Moonbeam made more sense than governor Newsom.

Thanks for listening to The Briefing.

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I’ll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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