A spectre is haunting conservatives: the spectre of people being treated equally and justly.
This week I’m responding to a column posted by Emma Zane, of twitter sockpuppeting fame. Ms Zane’s rather alarmist hand-wring piece can be found in its entirety here.
Zane is alarmed, she says, by “this unprecedented trend” of young people openly identifying as LGBTQ. She claims that a whopping 52% of youth identify as LGTBQ. She cites a 2016 study by the J. Walter Thompson Innovation Group - a London-based advertising/forecasting think tank. But there’s a problem: the study shows the exact opposite of what she claimed:
48 percent of Gen Zs identify as exclusively heterosexual, compared to 65 percent of millennials aged 21 to 34.
Zane reads this to mean that the primacy of the heterosexual identity is under attack - whereas, as a young friend describes it - the identity has expanded to “straight, with some exceptions”.
The poll had several flaws - being primarily internet-based, and having a very small sample size. But what hasn’t changed is the number of people identifying as completely Bi (~5%) and exclusively gay (~6%).
Further, it doesn’t ask how respondents view their personal and group identity, only where on the Kinsey scale their level of attraction lay. Other surveys and metastudies show an interesting pattern: roughly 93% of women will identify as Straight on a three option survey (Straight, Gay, Bi) - but on a four option survey (Straight, Mostly Straight, Gay, Bi) this number drops to 80%.
In other words, Straight is a group identity - and one that’s not likely to change, regardless of individual attraction.
Ms Zane’s primary concern is that youth are rejecting a strict binary in favour of a more inclusive, more nuanced spectrum of attractions and identities. Her core “concern” is most succinctly found in her following paragraph:
The LGBT-supportive messages have flooded our schools, and our lives in general. The goal of these messages is noble — an alarming number of children who identify as gay and transgender attempt suicide every year, and it is important to do what we can to embrace these kids. Yet, the number and the intesity of these messages are out of control, currently doing far more harm than good. In fact, the situation has become quite absurd. In the same breath as we encourage our kids to not conform to gender stereotypes, the LGBT movement is constatly suggesting through direct and indirect messages that less than masculine boys, or girls who don’t like stereotypicaly female things, are likely “gay” or “gender-queer”. Would Emilia Earhart have concluded that she was gay, if she were growing up today?
It’s a lot to unpack. I was raised in a very reactionary, right wing household that preached that only “traditional masculinity and femininity” was acceptable - and that anyone who didn’t fit that mold was a “sodomite” (read: queer). As a heavy book reader and sensitive soul, I faced a lot of adversity from church, group, and family. If anything, it is the reactionaries like Ms Zane who are ascribing and pushing labels on youth.
Fiction and legends recount many deep, romantic (but asexual) relationships between people of the same-sex. Canada’s iconic Anne of Green Gables - the character created by LM Montgomery - is an example of a fictional capital-S Straight character who has deep romantic feelings for a fellow girl (Diane). Or, in the Christian canon, the relationships of Paul and Silas - two “brothers in Christ” who shared very deep bonds, or John and Jesus, or David and Jonathan. These are queer relationships, but among folks who would have identified as captial-S Straight.
Her concerns come across as quite overblown - not only is there a lack of gay men’s knitting clubs, youth in general are now able to express interests in a wide variety of activities, careers, and pursuits, all without being forced into a box labelled “Straight” or “Gay”. This decoupling of attractions and identity is freeing. And most importantly: this smashes the hierarchy of rigid roles.
Ms Zane continued:
Yet, the results of this unprecedented social experiment won’t be known for years. Just as it is unfortunate for a truly gay individual to spend years in a heterosexual marriage before discovering their true identity, it is unfortunate that millions of heterosexual young adults will have spent years in same-sex relationships missing out on the opportunity to form meaningful bonds with the opposite sex.
People spend years in ultimately unsatisfying relationships, irrespective of their attractions or identities. Dissatisfaction levels in male-female marriages among the religious right are quite high; among the more-secular general population, divorce rates in the Canadian province of BC (reported in 2005) were: 39.8%.
Attraction doesn’t define what bonds an individual can ultimately form. Zane again has conflated identities with attraction and also makes the critical mistake of confusing sexual intercourse for forming bonds/friendships/relationships.
In short: that was the dumbest paragraph I’ve fisked today.
Zane didn’t stop at bashing people based on attraction, she outright conflates attraction and gender dysphoria in a tangled bowl of a paragraph:
Even more alarming is the growing number of gender-dysphoric children and adolescents who are being put on hormones today and are denied any form of counseling other than the “LGBT-affirming” kind, despite the evidence that for many kids, gender dysphoria is resolved by addressing their underlying severe anxiety and depression, and through good-old “counseling” that supports adolescents through their years of emotional turmoil and self-discovery.
Ms Zane seems to be unaware in the difficult and long path trans-identifying youth and adults face in gaining access to healthcare and transition care. In Canada, gender-affirmative care is gated behind several hoops, many consultations (including with psychiatric care providers), and often includes a mandated Lived Life Experience period of at least three months under current guidelines - down from a one-year period.
But Ms Zane seems most dismayed by the fact that gender-affirmative care is even available. She would rather have trans youth and adults face institutionalized torture or run through the gauntlet of the abusive, tortorous systemic of religious “Reparative Therapy”.
Gender-affirmative care IS good, evidence-based counseling, Ms Zane.
But you knew that already.
Ms Zane is not a concerned parent; Ms Zane is a crusader with religious zeal, trying to drag the world back into an idealized 1950s place of heterosupremacy and strict roles.