It’s fashionable in some circles to pretend that Bill Maher – one of the world’s better known liberal comedians – isn’t really a liberal anymore. After all, where, other than the likes of Fox News, or GB News, or maybe Gript, do you hear people wondering whether the huge increase in gay and trans young people is more cultural than it is natural? Somebody who talks about this stuff openly is naturally suspected of harbouring secretly traditionalist – perhaps even bigoted – views.
But Maher is no conservative. In the same show in which he offered the clip below, he also denounced the Republican Party for engaging in “Nazi kind of talk” over Donald Trump’s persistent refusal to accept the results of the last election, and announced that he couldn’t support candidates who didn’t believe in the “emergencies of climate change or democracy”. He’s not some sort of radical right winger – just an old school liberal who’s worried by what he’s seeing:
He’s not wrong about the increase in LGBT identification – but there are some interesting wrinkles to that, at least in the American data, which add to his points. For example, the increase in LGBT in the United States comes in very large part from young women who increasingly identify as “bisexual”:
If one was to be a cynic, one might note that “bisexual” is exactly how a person might choose to identify if they were a woman who was primarily attracted to men but also wanted to be able to say they were LGBT. It probably does a woman no harm in the dating market, either: Intuitively, men are less likely to run away from a woman who identifies as bisexual than women are from a man who identifies the same way. If there was to be a vehicle for “fashionable” LGBT ID, then that’s where you might expect to find it. And, lo, we do.
Maher’s best point, though, is the one about geography. If, as some progressives claim, the increase in trans-identified kids is all natural, then why is the increase tied so strongly to progressive enclaves? The Irish Government doesn’t produce data on this stuff, but I’d be reasonably confident of seeing a similar pattern in Ireland, with more trans kids in, say, Ballsbridge and Dalkey than you’d find in Borris-in-Ossory.
The standard progressive explanation for this kind of thing is that as societies get more liberal, and less oppressive, people are more comfortable being who they really are. And there is some evidence for that. Consider, for example, the case of left-handed people:
did left handedness become trendy or did we stop punishing left handed people for being left handed pic.twitter.com/SOWJebMYwn
— Seth Trueger (@MDaware) May 21, 2022
When we (mostly) stopped tying the left hands of left handed children to their desks and forcing them to write with their right hand…. the share of people calling themselves left-handed rose. We might reasonably expect that, as countries get more tolerant of LGBT people, the share of them in the population might rise.
But that only goes so far. Note that the share of left-handed people rose a little bit, and then stopped. With LGBT people, the increase is on an exponential trajectory.
Not all of this is very important. If women want to call themselves bisexual, for example, then that should be no skin off anybody’s nose.
But being trans, as a child, isn’t just a phase, at least, not if some of the more rabid activists have their way. You can’t reverse the long term impacts of things like puberty blockers, or double mastectomies. You can’t regain lost sexual function, or undo the psychological trauma that might arise in later life. Ireland is presently in the middle of a big row about how to define, for example, “conversion therapy” – trans rights activists would have you believe that any attempt to explore whether a child really is trans, or just acting out, qualifies as conversion therapy. They want “affirmative care” and affirmative care only. That would mean, in short, that once a child announces that they are trans, it would be virtually illegal for anybody to suggest to them that perhaps they are not.
In Ireland, political resistance to these ideas is low. Politicians seem to live in fear of being called bigots, or backwards. We already have some of the most trans-facilitating legislation on earth, and attempts are being made to make it much more difficult to intervene with a child. For example, Sinn Fein supports a bill which would prevent parents, in some circumstances, from preventing “gender affirming care” for their child. All of this before we get into the stuff about the Barbie Kardashians of the world – men who have decided to legally become women while remaining fully biologically male, and who end up in women’s prisons.
There is substantial evidence, as Maher points out, that this is all simply fashionable, and that the huge damage that is being inflicted is being ignored. From my point of view, he is obviously right. The problem is, too few liberals who quietly agree with him are willing to speak up.