Gender Ideologues Are Gaslighting Us
The official dictionary definition of the term “gaslight” is to “manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.”
I thought of this term the other day after I read two paragraphs in a CNN article, originally published on Tuesday, March 30, about how South Dakota governor Kristi Noem issued two executive orders stating that only girls can compete in female athletics in the state. The orders are in response to the growing push (endorsed by President Biden) to allow “transgender” athletes to compete in sports according to their “gender identity” rather than their biological sex.
CNN’s article originally “reported” the following:
Though the two executive orders signed by Noem do not explicitly mention transgender athletes, they reference the supposed harms of the participation of “males” in women’s athletics — an echo of the transphobic claim, cited in other similar legislative initiatives, that transgender women are not women. The orders also reference “biological sex,” a disputed term that refers to the sex as listed on students’ original birth certificates.
It’s not possible to know a person’s gender identity at birth, and there is no consensus criteria for assigning sex at birth. (Emphasis added)
CNN, because of backlash received on some of the original article’s language, has changed some wording in their new version of this article. You can still see media comments on the change and read the original CNN article.
I had to read those paragraphs several times just to make sure that I understood them correctly. I honestly could not believe that one of the world’s most powerful media companies was really saying what I thought they were saying. But they were.
The first paragraph asserts that it is “transphobic” to claim that “transgender women are not women.” To be clear, a transgender woman is not a woman. A transgender woman is a man, who claims to be a woman. In many cases a “transgender woman” will dress like a woman, or may have undergone chemical or surgical procedures to make himself look more or less convincingly like a woman. In other cases, he may have done none of this. All that is necessary to become a “transgender woman,” according to the people who believe in gender theory, is to claim to have the “gender identity” of a woman.
According to the dictionary, to have a “phobia” is to have an “irrational fear” of something. What CNN is stating, therefore, is that if you believe that men who claim to be women are not, in fact, women, then you have an “irrational fear” of transgender people. You are mentally ill.
This is, quite simply, gaslighting.
That same paragraph goes on to state that the term “biological sex” is a “disputed term.” CNN doesn’t clarify who is “disputing” the term “biological sex.” Certainly not biologists, who have extremely rigorous scientific criteria for determining the biological sex of various species, and whose science would utterly collapse without the term.
However, perhaps the most peculiar part of this incomprehensibly bizarre article, is the sentence that claims that there is “no consensus criteria for assigning sex at birth.”
As I’m sure I don’t need to tell you, human beings have assigned biological sex at birth using an extremely simple procedure for untold ages. It is true that in extraordinarily rare cases a child may be born with ambiguous genitalia, making it difficult to determine sex. This condition is called “intersex” and happens about 0.018% of the time. The rest of the time, however, a quick glance at the baby’s genitals is enough to assign biological sex with certitude. This is the “consensus criteria” that every doctor or midwife for thousands of years has used, and there is no compelling scientific reason to abandon it.
The most noteworthy thing about the article, however, other than the fact that the author is simply making things up, is that these fabrications are expressed in such a way as to suggest that they are completely uncontroversial. “Of course,” the writer’s tone suggests, “we all know that these things are true. These are just the indisputable facts. No sane person would possibly disagree.”
Manufacturing Consent: A Deliberate (and Diabolical) Strategy
I will repeat this, because it can’t be over-emphasized: Gender ideologues are gaslighting us.
Even as they promote the most radical and revolutionary viewpoints, turning common sense on its head, they are accusing those of us who believe what every human in history has believed, and what most people still believe (despite the best efforts of the revolutionaries), of being either mentally ill, or evil.
I also want to emphasize: This is not an accident. This is not unintentional. It is a deliberate strategy.
What the gender ideologues in the media and our universities know is that human beings are herd animals, and tend to believe what other people believe. One consequence of this is that if you want to change society, one powerful way to do so is to create the impression that society has already changed. In other words, if there is no consensus, then simply manufacture a consensus. Create the impression that everybody already believes what you want somebody to believe. If people start to think that everybody else believes something, and that their own opinions are unpopular or even fringe, it is likely that many of them will start to drift towards what they think the popular position is.
This is one reason for why progressives have focused so much of their energy on the courts. They know that one way of creating the impression that public opinion has already changed is to change the law. After all, people tend to think that if something is the law of the land, everybody else must want it to be the law.
The problem, of course, is that changing the law in radical ways through the legislature is difficult. Legislators are elected by the people, and hence their political positions tend to reflect public opinion. However, if you instead focus your energies on the courts, it’s just possible that you might find a judge, or a group of judges, who believes what you believe, and who is willing to legislate from the bench.
So, for instance, if you want most people to support abortion or same-sex “marriage,” instead of focusing on changing people’s opinions, simply get a court to legalize abortion or same-sex “marriage.” Once these things are legal, the gravitational pull of the manufactured consensus represented by the law will cause people’s opinions to drift towards supporting them.
The Orwellianism of Transgenderism
In addition to changing the law, another way of manufacturing consensus is by controlling language: by immersing people in words that reflect the desired opinion and banning words that do not.
In 1984, the totalitarian leaders of the dystopian “Oceania” create a new language, called Newspeak. As Wikipedia explains, Newspeak “is a controlled language of simplified grammar and restricted vocabulary designed to limit the individual’s ability to think and articulate ‘subversive’ concepts such as personal identity, self-expression and free will.”
Progressive ideologues are masters of the art of Newspeak. They are constantly coining new terms, and then getting their friends in the media to use them constantly. A quick search on Google Trends, which measures the frequency of certain search terms, shows, for instance, that the number of searches for the term “transphobia” has exploded in just the last two years. The term barely existed a few years ago, and now it’s everywhere. The same is true of numerous other terms, such as “queer,” “homophobia,” “LGBT,” and so on and so forth.
This is not an accident.
A few days ago, the New York Times ran an article with the headline: “Why Transgender Girls Are Suddenly the G.O.P.’s Culture-War Focus.” This headline is a brilliant example of Newspeak in action.
The first thing to note about this headline is the term “transgender girls,” which, of course, means “boys who claim to be girls.” Newspeak. The second thing to note is that New York Times has turned reality on its head. The reality is that transgender ideologues are the ones who opened a “new front” in the culture war. They are the ones who are suddenly pushing for a cultural revolution, demanding that we unleash an untested experiment on our children and culture, and abandon common sense views about sex and gender as “hateful.”
In the subheading for the article, the Times notes that, “Lawmakers in a growing number of Republican-led states are advancing and passing bills to bar transgender athletes in girls’ sports, a culture clash that seems to have come out of nowhere.” Of course, the reason this “culture clash” has seemed to “come out of nowhere,” is that one of President Biden’s first acts in office was to issue an executive order unilaterally requiring schools to allow boys to compete in girls’ sports. The truth is that the Republican legislators are reacting to a radical executive order from the president that came “out of nowhere.”
It is as if one country should, completely unprovoked, bomb another country, and then, when that country defends itself, turn around and accuse the defenders of “starting a war.”
The purpose of the New York Times headline is the same as those bizarre paragraphs in CNN’s article: to manufacture the impression of a consensus. It is designed to convey the impression that everyone believes that “Of course transgender girls should compete in girls’ sports. As everyone knows, that’s just common sense.”
One last example: In the process of writing this article, I searched the term “biological sex” on Google. I was expecting any number of articles (of which there are many) explaining the biology of sexual differentiation. Instead, the very first result was a link to a Planned Parenthood page about “sex and gender identity.” The next link was to an article in Forbes entitled, “The Myth of Biological Sex.” In fact, every single search result from the first was pushing some version of radical “gender identity” theory.
This, too, is not accidental.
We are being gaslit by the media giants and tech overlords, who are overwhelmingly owned and run by progressives. They want us to believe that we are literally crazy for trusting the evidence of our own eyes, and for following the science of sex and gender. They must not be allowed to get away with this.
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Father Shenan J. Boquet was ordained in 1993 and is a priest of the Houma-Thibodaux Roman Catholic Diocese in Louisiana, his home state, where he served before joining HLI as its President in August 2011. Father Boquet earned a BA from Saint Joseph Seminary College, a Master of Divinity (MDiv) from Notre Dame Seminary Graduate School of Theology, a Certification Program in Health Care Ethics from the National Catholic Bioethics Center, and a Master of Science in Bioethics (MSBe) from the University of Mary in Bismarck. In 2018, Father Boquet was awarded an honorary visiting professorship by the Benedict XVI Catholic University in Trujillo, Peru. He is available for interviews and bookings on behalf of HLI by emailing email@example.com.