The recent political discussions around transgender people, and the progressive uproar when claims of special rights are made, have resulted in a variety of opinions surfacing on the subject, some of which I wish to address. For example, I’ve read a few people in the liberty movement state that transgenderism is a “mental illness”. While I can understand their lack of empathy for the “gender fluid,” I find such assertions a bit beside the point. Few are in a position to judge the mental state of someone believing themselves to be straddling genders. More importantly, at least for libertarians, mental state is beside the point.
I’ve long contended that the progressive obsession with being “born like this” is a reaction to conservative claims of defying nature or religion. The primary example here is homosexuality but transgenderism is clearly of the same ilk. Since conservatives claim that “god” dictated the natural state of man and woman, anyone behaving counter is an aberration. In response, progressives and gays tout “science” as proof that they were born the way they are. To all of this, libertarians should say “who cares?”
The fact that I am born a certain way may influence my preferences, but that doesn’t change my state of humanity. Nor does my choice of lifestyle. So, whether I am born gay, or transgender, shouldn’t matter any more than if I choose to have sex with people of the same sex or choose to have my own genitalia replaced. Neither choice nor nature changes my right to live the way I choose to live. Libertarians, of all people, should understand this. If only more people could grasp such simple concepts.
One of the common arguments against free market capitalism is the claim that child labor and other labor abuses result from a lack of government oversight. However, as has been pointed out here before, child labor, which persists today in the poorest countries, existed long before economic liberalism and reflects instead a lack of productivity. As the industrial revolution progressed, individuals became more productive and could therefore support their family without significant contributions from all family members.
In the United States, productivity increases eventually resulted in the single earner household; while it was largely men who made up the workforce, both men and women were often sufficiently productive to allow their spouse to remain home with their children. Productivity gains further increased leisure time enabling shorter work weeks and longer vacations. This progress was the result of productivity brought about by greater freedom, competition, and investment.
Progressivism seeks to increase government regulation and oversight in an effort to eliminate the aforementioned “evils” of capitalism. Rather than seeking greater productivity, progressivism and its more insidious cousin socialism aim for more work available for more people. In a progressive utopia, idle hands don’t exist. Spreading the workload across the population moves human society back toward the time before the improvements of productivity. Rather than leisure, the inhabitants of a socialist society can enjoy more work as they contribute to the greater good. While the term “progressivism” likely has its roots in the belief of progressing toward Marx’s supposed inevitable “communist future,” it will instead result in regression.
The political left became apoplectic when the current occupant of the White House decided to ban transgender people from entry into the U.S. military. Since transgender individuals are on the progressive list of protected social groups, it is hardly a surprise that The Donald’s tweet would inspire such indignation. As is commonplace when the Big Cheese-doodle tweets, his rationale for the move was inept, claiming that the “medical costs and disruption” were his primary motivation for the decision.
While I don’t find it likely that many transgender people are lining up to die on foreign soil, the reaction from the left is disheartening at best. Instead of protesting the killing of innocent women and children in the ongoing military adventurism that passes for U.S. foreign policy, progressives are up in arms that transgender individuals are being excluded from the bombing. Where are the left’s priorities when they find it more important to fill body bags with transgender soldiers than to seek a means of bringing perpetual U.S. wars to an end? Now that it’s not Obama as bombardier, there should be no reason to support the U.S. government’s wars, yet progressives would rather ensure that a transgender helicopter pilot is killed in an ambush than bring their peace flags out of mothballs.
Of course, as I’ve covered here before, there is no anti-war left; progressive opposition to war is something reserved merely as a political tool. Similarly, the outcry over Trump’s ban does not prove support of transgender people. If the left were genuinely concerned about the transgender community, they would support the ban and call to have it expanded to everyone through secession of hostilities. Alas, principles are often too much to hope for.