The Synthesis of All Oppressions
Another place my investigation of the trans movement has taken me is Highland Park, Michigan, a city of roughly 9,000 residents located about six miles north of downtown Detroit. Highland Park has been plagued by poverty, violence, and crime for decades. Many of its homes and businesses have been abandoned or demolished. It is teetering on the edge of insolvency, yet it is home to one institution that is overflowing with funds: the Ruth Ellis Center, metro Detroit’s central laboratory for the synthesis of transgender science and politics.
The Ruth Ellis Center’s marketing pitch is an amalgam of all the usual euphemisms: “trauma-informed care,” “restorative justice,” “harm reduction,” “racial equity,” and “gender-affirming care.” In the name of these things, the Ellis Center and its partners conduct large-scale medical experiments on a population of predominantly poor black youths.
Dr. Maureen Connolly, a pediatrician at Henry Ford Health, leads the Ellis Center’s medical partnership, providing puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and surgical referrals to scores of Detroit kids. Here’s how she describes the child sex-change process:
Transitioning is an umbrella term to describe the process that someone goes through to bring their external self more closely into alignment with their gender identity. For some people that might mean changing their gender expression and the clothes that they wear or how they wear their hair. It might mean using a new name and different pronouns.
And that’s wonderful. For others, it can involve taking medication to make their body more closely aligned with how they identify in terms of gender—typically, that’s masculinizing or feminizing medications or hormone therapy. People can also choose to pursue gender-affirming surgeries, which are surgical interventions to bring their body more closely in alignment with their gender identity.
Keep in mind, again, that in the context of her role at the Ellis Center, Connolly is not talking here about the affluent, educated, male-to-female trans individuals who serve as the public face of the trans movement. She is mostly talking about kids from the Detroit ghetto who suffer from high rates of family breakdown, substance abuse, mental illness, and self-destructive behavior. As such, one might suppose that they are especially vulnerable to the claim that gender transition will solve all their problems.
“My name is Righteous, first and foremost,” says an Ellis Center patient who now identifies as non-binary and uses they/them pronouns:
I think I might have been about eight years old when I remembered or that I recall having any thought of being transgender or gender non-conforming. . . . It felt like I was an outsider to this whole world of America. On top of not being, you know, a European-American, I was black. . . . Most of my dysphoria comes from people misgendering me. With gender-affirming care, I could get the hormones I needed for free.
Righteous is thus a perfect example of the new synthesis of transgender science and politics. She works as an activist not only for the trans movement, but also for a broader intersectional coalition (i.e., a coalition of oppressed and marginalized groups), including, for instance, the movement to abolish the police. She represents the identity of the oppressed by both nature and nurture and marshals this unique “positionality” to advance the full suite of left-wing social policies.
(Parts 4 and 5 will appear together in the next issue of Uncommon Sense. Stay tuned!)
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