It is interesting in this era of gender fluidity, that the traditional liberal ideal of individuality is under siege from the most ironic of directions. Individualism, and the right to one’s own body, self-determination, and privacy stand at the core of any good classical liberal. But recent events at a high school in Palatine, Illinois are calling that into question.
You see, there happens to be a transgender student at that high school, an anatomical boy that now identifies as a girl. We’ll set aside the arguments for the plausibility of things (e.g. is “she” really a girl vs. it’s just a mental illness … if she told you she was really a goat, would you let her eat hay and live in a barn?) and assume “she” really is a girl “on the inside”. Nonetheless, “she” is anatomically a boy.
The interesting thing here is that the student has demanded the right to use the girl’s locker room. In short, the school tried to accommodate the student by allowing her access to the locker room, but requiring her to use private changing areas. They did so because many of the other girls had very real and legitimate privacy concerns about the issue. However, the Department of Education, under Title IX, stated that this arrangement violated the student’s civil rights, and threatened to pull the district’s federal funding.
Any classical liberal sees the conundrum here … both sides have a legitimate appeal to individual rights … the right to one student’s equality vs. other students’ privacy rights. The issue, clearly, is that we must find the balance between those two conflicting sets of rights.
However, this is NOT what the Department of Education did.
Rather, they decided that the rights of a group (transgenders) were more valid than the rights of another group, based purely on the Doctrine of the Minority. The doctrine of the minority, simply, is that we must hamstring the majority, or those better off or more capable, in order to enforce “equality”. To hell with the rights or aspirations of the majority. In true Harrison Bergeron fashion, we must re-engineer society as we see fit. It is identity politics at its worst …
And let us be clear, the idea that one’s group membership (whether it be racial, gender-based, sexual preference, etc.) trumps the needs/wants of the individual … that that individual’s identity, their experience, is subsumed within a homogenous identity of “the group” is a direct affront to individualism. A direct affront to individual rights. To individual self-determination. In short, to everything that Classical Liberalism stands for. It is NOT a liberal position.
Indeed, the push toward such collectivism is a hallmark in the radical departure of modern “Progressives” from classical liberalism.
And let’s not even get into why the Department of Education should be using Title IX to enforce civil rights in a litigious manner … is that not the purview of the Department of Justice? Moreover, using Title IX and the “threat of federal fund withdrawal” as a bludgeon to force others to act in ways they deem “socially appropriate”. Even when, as the recent vote in Houston (also this source) against allowing transgenders to use their non-anatomical bathroom showed, most people still value balancing the rights of everyone.
And lest we not forget the ACLU. I used to be a proud supporter of the ACLU … but apparently even they have no respect for the fact that ALL individuals have rights that should be respected. No, according to the new “progressive” ACLU, some people’s rights are more important than others. We used to have a word for that – Bigotry – but of course, this is “socially acceptable” bigotry. So that’s cool. Even the ACLU has turned its back on classical liberal principles … rejecting the Doctrine of Individualism for the aforementioned Doctrine of the Minority.
We should be clear, no one here is saying we should condone bullying or other such acts. Live and let live. But the reality is that an agreement that would balance the conflicting rights of different individuals was certainly within grasp. But that agreement was rejected and ridiculed by the so-called liberals in the Dept. of Education and ACLU. Or more like progressives in sheep’s clothing, perhaps. Instead, we likely will have an agreement that tramples the rights of many people. Simply because those people are not the right color, gender, or sexual preference. That is NOT a liberal position. In this case, they are normal heterosexual people without any gender dysphoria. Only, you know, like 95% of the population. But because Progressives see them only as “members of a group”, and a group that in their view is “privileged” … their individual rights are inconsequential, and at best secondary to the rights of other “groups”. My friends, this is NOT a liberal position.
Such is the consequence of the Progressive push to replace the classical liberal Doctrine of Individualism with the Doctrine of the Minority. It becomes a race to the bottom. Suddenly we are all thrust into some sort of “Oppression Olympics” … may the best victim win. But such a path is short-sighted. When we let the weak use their weakness as a form of power, we all become more impoverished for it. When we no longer respect true strength and skill, when we elevate others to the same status despite the lack thereof, we do not gain strength as a group. We gain mediocrity.