I sit here in the middle of the COVID-19 global pandemic. I can’t see the virus. I haven’t gotten sick, but I know it’s real. I don’t want to catch it, so I take the necessary, science-informed precautions. I have a science education. I understand the scientific method that can be applied to physical, biological, and social inquiries. It isn’t infallible, but it’s the best process of discovery and truth-finding that we have. I believe that science and medicine are seeking the truth about this virus; and I believe that, unless there is political or economic interference, scientists and doctors will tell us what they learn to the best of their abilities.
From my lockdown-world, I look out and I see large numbers of people believing wild ideas that go against facts and reality. I wonder if other invisible viruses have infected whole populations. A significant number of people have declared war on truth. Rationality and sanity are gone and have been replaced by dogmatic fantasies, political and social agendas, anger, and hate. As a result, there are serious consequences as lives, communities, and indeed, whole political systems, are threatened.
On the political right, there is QAnon, a body of disinformation and lies from an anonymous Internet source claiming that there is an international cabal of Satan-worshipping, child sex trafficking pedophiles (who sometimes eat children) controlling the world. Pure fantasy. However, in the U.S. in the last three years (since October 2017), tens of millions of people have decided to believe these lies and have acted on them.
QAnon, the fantasy/conspiracy theory, started on the forum 4chan with a user calling themself “Q,” who claimed to be a Washington, D.C. insider. Q claimed to know about this evil organization and the deep state, the bureaucratic operatives who control the country. Q dribbled out disinformation to an increasing number of readers, creating an alternate reality for millions of followers.
"Rationality and sanity are gone and have been replaced by dogmatic fantasies, political and social agendas, anger, and hate."
QAnon was politicized. It claimed that liberals and Democrats, including well-known political figures, were leading the cabal. QAnon supported President Donald Trump and the Make America Great Again (MAGA) movement. Q told his followers that President Donald Trump was aware of this evil group and when the time was right, he would launch The Storm, which would result in the arrest and possible execution of leaders of the cabal.
QAnon believers were politically radicalized into supporting Trump’s disproven claims of election fraud. At Trump’s urging they went to Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021 to participate in the Save America March. Some of them joined with white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and militia groups in the Stop the Steal riot. In a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol, they smashed their way into the Capitol to stop the democratic process of counting the electoral college votes for president. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) now characterizes QAnon conspiracies as “domestic violent extremists” threats.
A violent interruption of the democratic process like this has not happened in modern times. The U.S. Capitol, the House of Representatives, and the Senate chambers were violently breached. Most legislators were led to safety into tunnels beneath the Capitol. Other legislators and staff members hid in offices with furniture piled against the doors while the violent mob pounded on their doors and attempted to break in. The U.S. flag was torn down and replaced by the Trump flag, and a man carrying a Confederate flag strolled through the Capitol. The rioters chanted calls for the hanging of the Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence. They broke into the offices of many legislators, looking for them, including the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. If the terrorists had found any of them, we don’t know what would have happened, but the United States came to the precipice of a coup—all stemming from fantasy beliefs and political radicalization.
The political left is quick to denounce the campaign of disinformation that led to the Capitol riot on January 6. But fake news and harmful politicized beliefs leading to real harm are not solely a right-wing phenomenon. The American political left is increasingly diving headfirst into their own world of lies and fantasy and, unlike in the imaginary world of QAnon, real children are becoming actual victims.
The trans-sex fantasy, the belief that a person can change his or her sex, either from male to female or from female to male, is spreading largely unquestioned among the political left.
The trans-sex fantasy returns us to the question: “What is a woman?” Throughout history, through ignorance or malice, lies were told about women—about their intelligence, their morality, and their capabilities. These lies were used to deny girls and women a full spectrum of rights from advanced education, to the vote, to participation in sports, to living in safety. Women’s rights movements have called out these lies and worked for equal rights.
The most significant idea introduced by second-wave feminists in the early 1970s was the concept of gender. Feminists contend that gender, generally embraced and observed as masculinity or femininity, was not locked to sex. A person could express a range of masculine and feminine behaviors and appearances, but their sex was unchanged. This was real liberation.
"The American political left is increasingly diving headfirst into their own world of lies and fantasy and, unlike in the imaginary world of QAnon, real children are becoming actual victims."
Feminists continued to analyze how gender was constructed based on gender stereotypes that were taught and imposed by society. And just at the point where women (and men) seemed to be able to get out from under the enforced stereotypes, there arose a movement to reinforce those gender stereotypes and relock them to sex. This is a huge reversal of feminist progress.
The trans-sex/“gender identity” ideology challenges same-sex rights, particularly those of women and girls. Interestingly, men and boys have had no attack on their rights. The biological category of sex, particularly women’s sex, is being smashed. Women and girls are expected to give up their places of privacy such as restrooms, locker rooms, and even prison cells. When biological males identify as trans-women, they can compete in women’s and girls’ sports. There are now cases of women being injured, some severely, by biologically larger and stronger biological men competing as “transwomen.” In the most well-known case in 2014, a transgender competitor broke the skull (linked video is graphic) of a female during a mixed martial arts (MMA) competition. In Fall 2020, World Rugby banned the participation of transwomen (biological males) in rugby citing the high risk of injury. Even Title IX, which granted women equal access to educational opportunities, such as those provided by sports and scholarships, are being taken away. It used to be when someone took unfair advantage, we’d call it cheating, but that is no longer recognized in this fantasy world.
The dystopian trans-sex/“gender identity” world claims that female mammalian characteristics should be redefined and disappeared from the female body to satisfy the feelings of biological males who identify as women. Basic biological words like breast and vagina are replaced by misogynistic, trans-sex/trans-gender language so that a female has a “front hole” instead of a vagina; females “chest feed” instead of breastfeed. All references to women disappear into terms such: “people who menstruate,” “people with uteruses,” “a pregnant person,” or “a birthing parent.” No such changes in terms are proposed for men’s bodies and anatomy. These redefinitions are hatred targeted at women’s bodies and their rights.
These fantasies are advocated for real girls, boys, men, and women, most of whom are told that if they feel they don’t “fit in” socially or they don’t conform to rigid gender stereotypes, they are in the wrong sex body. Based on information from social media and false promises from medical consultants and surgeons, teens believe that they can be medically transitioned into the other sex with full-functioning sex organs facing few complications. These are lies.
Young people are guided into hormonal and surgical horrors that de-sex them. There are treatments and surgical procedures on women and girls, beginning with puberty-blocking hormones or testosterone administration, that can progress to double mastectomies (euphemistically called “top” surgery), and hysterectomies (euphemistically called “bottom surgery”). Girls’ female bodies are permanently scarred and destroyed. There are experimental surgeries that attempt to construct a penis from a skin graft from another part of the body.
"The sterilization of physically healthy individuals who fail to conform to society’s standards mirrors the forced sterilizations of people during the eugenics movement of the 1920s and 1930s."
Boys are given female hormones and they can progress to cosmetic surgery for breast-like implants to “bottom surgeries,” in which the tissues of the testicles and penises are transformed into a vagina and clitoris in experimental surgery. The latter is euphemistically called “gender confirmation surgery.” Only 1-5% of men who identify as women choose to do this, preferring to keep their penises and testicles. For both women and men, the “bottom” surgeries are experimental and extremely disfiguring. It is not currently possible to surgically construct natural functioning biological sex organs, although surgical practices claim patients will have “fully-functioning external genitalia.” The best reconstructions are only facsimiles of the real thing.
Pharmaceutical companies, clinics, and doctors are profiting from these disfiguring treatments and procedures with no regard for the future of their victims. In fact, they are creating patients who will be in need of permanent treatments for the rest of their lives.
The sterilization of physically healthy individuals who fail to conform to society’s standards mirrors the forced sterilizations of people during the eugenics movement of the 1920s and 1930s. People who were identified as “not fit to reproduce” were forcibly sterilized. Tens of thousands of these sterilizations took place in the United States after the 1920 U.S. Supreme Court case Buck v Bell decided they were legal. For decades in the U.S. there have been illegal sterilizations of poor, vulnerable Black, Puerto Rican, Latina, Native American, and disabled or mentally ill women who were secretly sterilized during other medical procedures. The eugenics movement to breed a better race of people was a fantasy; so is the trans-sex movement.
In the U.S. presidential election, many of us voted against the QAnon fantasy and the authoritarian leadership which prevails over truth and rule of law. We hoped to reestablish a more rule-following, rational, decent, and science-based governance, particularly for combatting the COVID pandemic. Yet, within hours of President Biden being sworn in, he signed the “Executive Order on Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation.”
The order instructs federal agencies to interpret existing law that prevents “discrimination on the basis of sex” as also including discrimination on the basis of “gender identity.” Sex no longer matters. If a man identifies as a woman, then he will be given access to formerly protected women’s single-sex spaces, such as restrooms, locker rooms, women’s prisons, and women’s/girls’ sports. The trans-sex fantasy has imagined—and is enacting—a world in which how a man feels is more real than his actual reality. And now the fantasy has the weight of the federal government behind it.
These fantasies, from QAnon on the right to trans-sex/ “gender identity” ideology on the left, fly in the face of rationality and truth.
In the United States, every person is constitutionally guaranteed the freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of religion, and the freedom to peacefully protest. Every person is entitled to dignity, civil rights, and human rights. But rights are based on laws, truth, and scientific reality—the best they can be established—not fantasies or feelings.
"The trans-sex fantasy has imagined—and is enacting—a world in which how a man feels is more real than his actual reality. And now the fantasy has the weight of the federal government behind it."
On the left, the “gender identity” movement is canceling people’s free speech and academic freedom for anyone who doesn’t fall in line, speaks out in opposition, or even calls for the right to debate. People are losing social media accounts or being fired for “misgendering” someone or not “affirming” a person’s’ claimed “gender identity.” In the meantime, an increasing number of teens are signing-up for harmful treatments with no one, not even parents, being allowed to intervene.
On the right, we still don’t know who Q is or how the conspiracy and disinformation spread so widely. Is it a sophisticated psy-op targeting Americans run by a foreign government or an organized effort promoted by former military and intelligence professionals? Both of these fantasy worlds—QAnon on the political right and the gender identity movement on the political left—have successfully radicalized people who have been drawn farther from reality. Like cult followers, no amount of evidence and facts can disrupt their beliefs.
Lives, relationships, and families are being ruined because of both of these belief systems. People say they can no longer speak to friends or relatives. Parents are bereft as children make life-altering choices they can’t prevent. In this post-truth era, we see “a desire [for] fantasy and delusion” according to Steve Schmidt, a strong opponent of Trump and his supporters’ conspiracy theories. People want to believe the disinformation. Why they do is not really understood.
How will these fantasy movements end?
Security analysts say that millions of people still believe the QAnon conspiracies. Along with their allies, the white power groups, they now control the Republican Party. The disinformation and embrace of authoritarianism in the Republican party has come close to destroying it. Tens of thousands of people are quitting the party, and anti-Trump Republicans are discussing the road forward, including the possibility of starting a new party.
The extremists among the right-wing groups are likely planning new violent activities. According to security analysts, domestic terrorism is now the greatest threat to the U.S. A recent frightening survey found that 55% of Republicans support “the use of force” to resist a decline in what they call the “traditional American way of life.” And a smaller, but still significant 39% percent of Republicans, support violent action if “elected leaders will not protect America.” These findings do not bode well for the future in the U.S.
"People want to believe the disinformation. "
Legislative and legal battles around the eligibility of biological males to participate in females sports are underway. A number of state legislatures are proposing bills that will make participation in sports based on the sex on their birth certificate. Twenty bills like this were proposed in 2020, and five more in 2021. One bill that passed in Idaho is being challenged and likely to be decided in the Supreme Court. This legal battle will likely continue for years.
The trans-sex/“gender identity” business is growing. According to a recent market analysis report, the “sex reassignment surgery market” was valued at $267 million in 2019, and given the 10-15% annual growth, is expected to earn $782 million in 2027. The report cites “higher incidences of gender dysphoria” and the increasing number of people choosing surgeries.
At this point, other than the legal action on eligibility in female sports and the valiant alarm calls from radical feminists, there is nothing to stop the juggernaut of “gender identity” from consuming an increasing number of young people. There are a growing number of girls suddenly deciding that the solution to their multiple social and mental health problems is the false and harmful belief that they are in the wrong body.
The U.S. is still in crisis over the COVID-19 pandemic. After almost a year, people are wondering when they will get their vaccine and whether lockdowns and social distancing will ever end. However, the end of the global pandemic looks more likely to happen sooner than the fantasies ruining lives and political systems.
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