This is where the transgender movement is going: A prominent magazine makes “the moral case for letting trans kids change their bodies”—and makes it the cover story

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
April 12, 2024

We did see this coming. With relentless energy, the revolutionaries have bulldozed through the culture, breaking down one moral barrier after another—and all in the name of sexual and moral liberation. First the revolution came for heterosexual relations. Premarital sex was normalized, and then extramarital sex followed. Adultery became an “affair,” and an entire system of sexual morality cracked. Then it broke.

Within a matter of mere decades, marriage was redefined and humanity’s most basic institution was “expanded” to include same-sex couples. Simultaneously, there were demands that homosexuals be given full recognition and liberation as well. That revolution took a bit longer to gain traction, but then it gained momentum and expanded its aims. The modern LGBTQ movement represents two great achievements of the liberationists. First, they took advantage of identity politics in order to push their aims in the public square and demand political action. Second, they took advantage of the ideological shift toward unbridled personal autonomy in order to argue for gender identity over virtually everything else—including biology.

They gained so much ground, so fast, that even the revolutionaries and the LGBTQ activists were astounded. Their sexual identity ideology was celebrated by the culture industry and the elites, who constantly bombarded the rest of us that the empire of the rainbow flag was unstoppable and would be universal. Their next demand—polyamory.

And then, something happened on the way to the Pride parade. The T in LGBTQ became the issue. There were obvious strains within the coalition, but the biggest problem for the Trans movement was that the public was moving in their direction, then stopped, then went into reverse—especially when it comes to children and teenagers.

On every other dimension of the LGBTQ spectrum, the advance has been constant and the ground has been gained fast. On the transgender issue, the movement has actually lost ground. An interesting but predictable pattern emerged. A lot of Americans seem to be willing to have a 35-year-old declare transgender identity and life goes on. Many Americans are evidently fine with adults having access to so-called “gender affirming” medical procedures, both hormonal and surgical. Interestingly, many people seem to understand quite fully that they are playing a sort of game. When a trans claim is made, a lot of our neighbors see it as a strange and extreme sort of identity game. Their response is not necessarily affirmation but befuddlement. You know the look.
But when it comes to children and teenagers, Americans are not ready to join the trans revolution, especially when it comes to hormonal treatments, much less surgery. Polling is clear about this. Writing in New York magazine, Pulitzer Prize-winning transgender writer Andrea Long Chu acknowledges the problem: “But a growing majority of Americans also believe gender is determined by sex at birth, and even more (almost 70 percent) oppose puberty blockers for trans kids.”

There it is, and it’s not just Americans. Britain is closing its identity clinic for children and teenagers at Tavistock. Other European nations are also shifting into far more conservative positions on hormonal and surgical “treatments” for young people claiming to be trans or non-binary. Leading media sources have also raised big issues. Just weeks ago, New York Times columnist Pamela Paul wrote a major essay on young people who identified as trans and later “detransitioned.” More recently, Megan McArdle of the Washington Post asked, “When treating transgender youth, how informed is informed consent?” Activists know they are losing ground. Americans, and American parents in particular, are increasingly not buying the argument that medical intervention (hormone blockers and surgery) is in any way appropriate for children and teenagers.

Just this week, Andrea Long Chu went for broke with the New York magazine piece. Chu claims to present a “moral case” for allowing kids who present as trans to “change their bodies.” Trust me on this—Chu means it. As a matter of fact, though Chu deals with some of the ideology behind the LGBTQ movement and modern gender theory, the real purpose of the cover story is to push identity constructs to the breaking point. Chu’s “moral” case is that there is no right reason to deny a child or teenager access to radical hormonal or surgical treatment. Chu writes: “We will never be able to defend the rights of transgender kids until we understand them purely on their own terms: as full members of society who would like to change their sex.” Chu adds: “It doesn’t matter where this desire comes from.”

The claim is as categorical as it seems. There is no moral reason to deny any kid any sex “reassignment” or “gender-affirming” medical treatment. None. Ever. Period. Just consider this argument from Chu’s essay: “That trans kids’ access to care will in most cases be mediated by parents or legal guardians is an inescapable fact of the way our society regards children, rightly or not.” Clearly, Chu thinks “not.” Chu goes on to argue that, “For now, parents must learn to treat their kids as what they are: human beings capable of freedom.” We know what this means. So does Chu.

It would be tempting to just shrug and see this piece as a fringe argument from a trans writer addressed to people with purple-streaked hair living in a Manhattan artists den. But it’s much more than that. It is a major salvo in a great struggle over human sexuality, gender identity, and the future of our society. At a far more fundamental level, it’s about a battle for the hearts, minds, and bodies of our children. We had better know what we are up against.

This article originally appeared at WORLD Opinions on March 12, 2024.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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