Philosophical consistency is an aspirational goal. It is not, no matter how much we may want to believe in our own purity, something any of us will ever truly achieve. Also, even if you drive a Prius your farts stink; you have to spring for a Tesla before they turn to perfume.
It is easy to see the inconsistencies in the belief systems of people with whom we disagree (because they are all stupid and rude); it is much harder to recognize those in our own noble, and wise beliefs. Almost all of us here are small ‘l‘ libertarians. I am a conservative leaning libertarian. We yokels sometimes make jokes about capital “L” Libertarians being all about pot, Mexicans and ass sex which is our deliberately offensive shorthand for our belief that The Libertarian Party, (sorry I know it doesn’t really deserve a capital letter but how else do we distinguish between libertarians and Bill Weld?) campaigns exclusively on sexual liberation (which has been pretty completely achieved, and no you did not get a speck of credit from the progs), drug legalization (yay crony pot!), and open borders, to the exclusion of freedom of association, gun rights, and limiting the massive growth of government, which we see as the more significant issues.
I set this all out as a starting point, because I am going to be examining one of my own prejudices and it helps to give some context about my belief structure. In other words I studied law and philosophy and am now completely incapable of getting directly to the point. Hell, just be glad I didn’t spend 5 pages defining every noun in this article.
Up to this point you are probably thinking: Pompous guy spouting above the fray platitudes, libertarian model II, Paulista edition, time to move to the comments, nothing interesting here. But I am not writing this to signal virtue; I am writing this, and struggling with it, because I have realized (not for the first time) that I have a conflict in my beliefs, and one that I think quite a few people here share.
It has to do with everyone’s favorite non-acronym acronym. That wonderful keyboard swipe that defines sexual politics, LGBTQ. I am not worried about the L, they take care of themselves just fine, the G, they aren’t even victims anymore, the B, doubled date chances and all, or even the Q (Hi Q thanks for the mammaries!), but I have a problem with the T. Ok, I don’t really understand the Q, I mean literally, I do not understand what queer means if it is something not covered by the L, B, or G. So back to that troublesome T.
I believe that there are three phenomena lumped into that T, and that due to deliberate conflating of these phenomena, a great deal of misery is being created. First, there are the physically intersex individuals. That tiny minority who are born with some ambiguity in their sexual characteristics. Second, there are those suffering from gender dysphoria. Also a small minority, but in this case with a psychological disconnect between their otherwise normal physiology and their self perception. Finally, there are those I think of as the snowflakes. Generally young people who I believe identify as transgender either in confusion about their sexual desires, a search for victimhood, or just to dramatize teen angst.
For the intersex folk out there I have nothing but compassion. My only wish for them is that they find whatever role and path to happiness they can. If that means surgery, hormone treatments, and selection of a gender, great; if it means some other path, also great. For those with actual gender dysphoria my thoughts are more complicated. I personally think that treating a psychological disconnect by changing the body is the wrong path, but it isn’t my place to decide what path someone else should take, so who cares what I think?
For the snowflakes, less sympathy, a lot less. As with many snowflake issues the answer is that growing up is hard, but worthwhile, and I suggest they give it a try. No, occasionally having a stereotypical feminine feeling does not a dysphoria make. You are not a lesbian woman trapped in a man’s body. You are just a straight dude, even if you get off on wearing women’s clothes. Equally, if you are ok with your body, but want to engage in sex with another dude that is called being gay, it does not require surgery, hormones, or switching restrooms. Just do what makes you happy, don’t harm other people and stop being so dramatic.
And now you are all thinking: Ok, what’s so contradictory about all this? These are pretty bland, basic viewpoints on this issue, and even the part where I diverge from the sjw narrative I admit is none of my business so why bother to spout off? Aren’t I just being an angsty snowflake myself with all my dramatic “philosophical contradiction” nonsense? BUT I AM SPECIAL DAMMIT!
Well, there is a more controversial part of all this.
What about the kids? Pretty much anyone who claims to be libertarian is going to eventually come around to the idea that adults can make their own choices about hormones and surgery. There may be some waffling about bathrooms, and we may think prisons, sports leagues and other sex segregated venues should go by biology, but it’s very hard to claim to be pro individual liberty and at the same time deny adults the right to make their own decisions about their bodies. Children are a different thing. (Why will no one ever think of them!)
Children do not have full autonomy. Obviously, you cannot let a toddler, or grade-schooler, or even a middle-schooler make all, or even most, of their day to day decisions. A diet of soda, candy, and ice cream is unhealthy. Spending all day playing Fortnite or hunting Pokemon is less productive than school (ok, maybe the kids are right on this one). Vaccinations are actually a good thing, even if shots sting. And, no, the dog does not want to be dressed as your caparisoned stallion and ridden to battle with the forces of evil over at Mikey’s house. So, we all accept that children can rightly be prevented from doing as they wish.
We accept the concept of parental authority, and the idea that children’s basic right to liberty is in abeyance until some degree of maturation has occurred. (Or at least until they get big enough to be useful as cannon fodder.) Very young kids have effectively no liberty, and as they get older they gradually get more autonomy until at some magic point they morph into adults and become free to go to hell in their own way, just like all of us.
I have voiced the opinion that encouraging, or even allowing, children to take puberty blockers, or cross sex hormone treatments, is blatant child abuse. Puberty blockers have permanent effects and the idea that prepubescent kids are developed enough to make permanent decisions, or even to decide that they are transgendered, as opposed to simply homosexual, or just unsure about their sexuality, is nonsense.
By definition, prepubescent kids are not sexually developed. It is the rankest prejudice to say, “Oh, I know little Johnny is gay, or straight, or transgendered,” when little Johnny hasn’t hit puberty. Manifestly all you can be basing that belief on are your stereotypes about how gay people, or straight people act. You see, prepubescents aren’t supposed to be engaged in sexual behavior (sorry OMWC), and sexual behavior is what actually defines you as gay, straight, bi or whatever the hell, and no, playing with dolls doesn’t mean little Johnny is gay, or a woman.
Now, child abuse is a tough subject for libertarians and conservatives. We can accept that children don’t have full autonomy, and default to the idea that therefore their autonomy devolves to the parents. Since that leaves the parents effectively owning the liberty right of the child, we are skeptical about government involvement, but what about abuse situations? If libertarian belief followed all the way left us with no way to stop parents from torturing, raping, or killing their kids, then libertarians would really be as evil as Vox says. Fortunately, libertarian philosophy doesn’t have to take us there.
I think what saves us is the concept of a fiduciary. Parents do own their children’s liberty rights, but they own them as fiduciaries. In other words, they hold the right for the benefit of the child, not the parent’s own benefit, and Mommy and Daddy have a corresponding obligation to act in little Johnny’s interest. So, no problem right? If using puberty blockers is a bad idea, poorly justified, by inadequate evidence, of, possibly nonsensical, gender confusion, with long term deleterious effects, then it is child abuse and should be illegal, just like any other permanent physical harm inflicted!
That has been my belief and I have voiced it frequently. Here is the problem:
I support the right of crazy anti-vaxxers to refuse to get their kids shots. I also got furious, along with most of the people here about Charlie Gard. In other words I believe that medical decisions fall squarely within the parent’s role. So, despite thinking transgender treatments for children are as stupid as the Flat Earth Society bragging that they now have chapters around the globe, and as evil as a Broward County election supervisor, I have to support the parent’s right to make this decision.
So, that leaves me with three possibilities:
1. Medical decisions must be subject to some test and the parents only get to make the ‘right’ decisions.
The problem here is obvious. What test? Who decides? Doctors? Judges? Every single case of puberty blockers being given involved a doctor, as did the decision to kill Charlie, which was upheld by the British courts. So going this route doesn’t get me EITHER side of what I want. When an answer requires the right top men, it is not a libertarian idea
2. Puberty Blockers are up to the parents and child, hopefully in consultation with doctors across a decent spectrum of understanding of the consequences, and I can sit quietly disapproving but shut up about it.
3. My thought process sucks and you all will let me know why I am stupid in the comments.
Much as it pisses me off, I have to go with 2 here. The unexamined life may not be worth living; but examining it mostly leaves you feeling a bit dirty.