How the Trans Movement Is Taking Away Our Freedom to Think What We Think

By Tom Gilson Published on February 4, 2021

The photo above is Dr. of Rachel Levine, Joe Biden’s nominee for assistant secretary of health. Levine is a woman, or at least that’s what you’re supposed to think, anyway. I have a question, though: Do you see anything there that makes “her” look at all like a man to you?

Oops. Pardon me. I’m sorry, but I shouldn’t have asked. You may not even ask yourself that question. It’s not allowed.

Dr. Rachel Levine is Joe Biden’s nominee for assistant secretary of health. The position he may or may not hold is of no matter at the moment, other than the fact that his photo is so much in the news. For the moment we can table the debate over Levine’s gender, too, not because it’s unimportant but in order to focus in more clearly on a different issue. 

Questions of Suffering, a Question of Freedom

I have some ask questions to raise here that may make Dr. Levine unhappy. I have no need or desire to do hurt him more than necessary. I do not presume to know his experience, but I do know the transgender condition can be painful, even cruel.

I have seen it at close hand, and it grieves me. A male cousin of mine transitioned to taking on the persona of a woman, decades ago, long before such a thing had any social acceptability. He was dark-haired, tall, with angular features, so there was no way he could have passed as a biologically born woman. If he had any desire to share in the beauty of womanhood — as I’m sure he did — it was cruelly, forever out of his reach.

He died too young. Rumor had it that drugs were involved. We don’t know if it was the hormones he was taking or a more traditional lethal overdose. Perhaps it was only rumor, for there was much left unsaid about his ending. We do know he was unhappy. This is not uncommon among trans persons. Their suicide rate is tragic. So I am not writing this to make anyone even less happy, but to raise a hard question about basic human freedoms.

Is This Question Thinkable?

Here’s how I want to approach that question. Try for a moment to look at Dr. Levine as a woman, feminine pronouns and all (they help make the point in this case). See the photo again, and ask yourself, Does she look at all like a man to you?

No woman wants anyone to wonder such a thing about her. The very question casts a dark and doubtful view on her beauty, her femininity, her essential womanhood. No one would speak it aloud in a woman’s presence, it would be insanely rude. Politeness even tells us to quiet it in our own thoughts: “I shouldn’t think that about her,” we admonish ourselves.

Worse Than Discourtesy

So if I see an actual woman and I say, “She looks a lot like a man,” that’s discourtesy. If I say it about Dr. Levine, however, discourtesy is only the beginning of my moral failures. I’ve become guilty of a far worse sin, the crime of transphobia. People don’t just frown on you for that. They don’t just walk you out the door during the cocktail party. They shame you. Openly. They cancel you for it.

To say, “This person looks like a man to me,” is a graver cultural error when talking about Dr. Levine case than when talking about any other woman. The phrase, “any other woman,” is our culture’s way of looking at it, not mine, of course. It highlights a very strange circumstance, though. To question this “trans woman’s” femininity is far more objectionable than doubting any actual woman’s femininity — even though there is so much more reason to question it.

That is exactly what they’re attempting to foist upon us. They’re trying to strip us of our most basic freedom, the liberty to think what we think.

I return now to the feminine pronouns. You are free to say they don’t bother you, as in, “No, that seems perfectly natural. She’s certainly a woman in any way the word matters, and I’ll call her that, no problem.” But what if you take the opposite view? Do you have freedom to think, “He’s not a she, he’s a he”? Are you even allowed a thought like, “I know I’m supposed to call ‘her’ a ‘her,’ but I sure have a hard time doing it.”

It seems to me our culture wants to give us a choice: “You can think about her the way you are supposed to think about her, because you really think she is a she. Or you can think about her as her because that’s what we’re telling you to think about her.”  And that’s no choice at all.

You Must Not Think It, Because You Must Not

It would be one thing if they said, “It doesn’t matter what you think. Dr. Levine is a woman, whether you think so or not.” That’s wrong in multiple ways. It’s worse than that, though. The trans movement’s actual message is, “Dr. Levine is a woman. Period. And it’s not enough to treat her as a woman, nor is it enough to use feminine pronouns for her. You must actually agree she is a woman.” 

You must agree he is a woman because Dr. Levine has decided he is a woman, and if he thinks so, then you must think so. Those are the rules. He decides, you comply. I refuse to be mind-controlled that way. That is exactly what they’re attempting to foist upon us. They’re trying to strip us of our most basic freedom, the liberty to think what we think.

There’s a word for that: It’s tyranny. Think about that, while you still have the freedom to do so. They can’t actually take that away, but they sure are trying.


Tom Gilson (@TomGilsonAuthor) is a senior editor with The Stream and the author or editor of six books, including the recently released Too Good To Be False: How Jesus’ Incomparable Character Reveals His Reality.

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