Transgender youth and attraction to minors

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Transgender rights, including the medical treatment of transgender youth, is one of the most contentious cultural topics in 2020s mainstream media, invoking the topic of youth agency and potentially problematizing outdated concepts such as purity discourse, negative utilitarianism and safeguarding.

The topic of trans youth, in particular - gender-affirming healthcare, is an often referred to theme in the culture war between, on the one hand, a hostile ideological nexus of conservatives/(trans exclusionary) "gender critical" feminists, and on the other, sympathetic modern social-justice orthodoxy, sometimes known as "wokism".

The trans-affirming social-justice alliance has often been linked with attraction to minors and the MAP Movement in the 2020s. This linkage takes two forms, theoretical (as described below), and associative - where the trans-ness or trans-inclusivity of MAPs or vice versa is weaponized by conservatives in political discourse. The controversy surrounding Jacob Breslow is one striking example of this weaponization, as are the editorials of gender-critical (TERF) news outlets such as Reduxx,[1] which focus on trans people whose lifestyles involve intersecting queer/invalidated expressions of desire, and thus may "sexually offend".

Some youth-liberationists, neutral and pro-c MAPs, have advocated that the ongoing medicalization of transgender youth must be encouraged (or at least not resisted), as it will inevitably lead to the abandonment of negative utilitarianism, and adoption of evidence-based approaches with respect to the sexual agency of minors in general. Thus, the topic of transgender youth is said to form an important part of the MAP Movement's adjacency-enabled rise to public contention. Other MAPs and Trans people disagree with this outlook (see section on dissent, below).

Linkages

As mentioned, earlier, there have been some attempts to link the affirmation of transgender-identified youth with minor attraction - sometimes embraced and sometimes rejected by MAPs, and generally rejected by LGBTQ+ people, except for a conservative/"gender-critical" (TERF) subset.

Theoretical

The GB News TV columnist Mark Steyn described the theoretical linkage between transgender youth and the pro-c MAP Movement on his show, 6 Oct, 2022:

STEYN (with ironic sarcasm): I should add, of course, that pedophilia has absolutely nothing to do with advocating the mutilation of children's bodies by chopping off girls' breasts... and rendering them sterile. They're two quite different things:

  • One abuses children who can not give informed consent to sex, and -
  • The other abuses children who can not give informed consent to bodily experimentation.

They're two quite different things(!)[2]

Steyn correctly identifies that social justice movements (if they are to have any integrity) can not hold two conflicting positions on the ability of minors to give consent in matters of bodily autonomy. Thus, he suspects, any re-appraisal of youth choice concerning gender-affirming surgeries will not only lead to re-appraisal of youth choice in the wider sexual arena, but will be supported by those (pedophiles, in his words) who can see, and take advantage of the fact that the topics are analogous.

One commentator on the HTOC Blog puts it this way:

If that domino falls, then things are headed quickly toward a reexamination of pedophiles. It’s not politically correct to say that, and most trans people would be horrified by it (understandably), but there’s too much overlap in the substance of the issue for it not to be, even if actively unallied.

Ironically, it’s something conservatives are actually right about - though not for the reasons they think, and I certainly do not think conservatives are right about it, let alone anything else. The road of queer rights, and trans rights more specifically, does indeed eventually lead to a place where MAP’s will emerge as a contender for reexamination of their place in society as well.

[...]

Queer theory will inevitably lead us to a reexamination of the child and the child’s sexuality. It most certainly leads us to a reexamination of the ever contorted puritanical-degenerate horn dog dichotomy adolescents live in (being on the one hand highly sexual, and on the other hand increasingly deprived of that sexuality). If you talk about gay kids, trans kids, queer kids of any kind - you’re talking about kids, and sexuality. Not adults and sexuality, children and sexuality.

And the very existence of queer kids is going to force the issue - most notably trans-kids, whose very existence challenges our ideas of depriving youth of bodily autonomy. We cannot on the one hand teach bodily autonomy to protect against abuse, without also eventually confronting the reality that bodily autonomy includes the right to say “yes” and isn’t bodily autonomy if it’s under a command to only say “no”.

Furthermore, the more conservatives try to undo the gains made by queer people, under the guise of “protecting” children from “groomers”- a term they utterly misuse and abuse - eventually if you keep calling everyone a pedo - from the right or the left side of the equation - eventually that means people are going to have a long and hard look at pedophilia - just as it did when the worst thing you could be was queer or gay.[3]

Associative

The associative method we identified in relation to the "gender-critical" (TERF) media is often used alongside the theoretical/political rationale explained above, and can be seen in the "groomer" panic of the early 2020s. Mainstream media outlets tend to veer towards this more simplistic method, although opinion journalists such as Tucker Carlson have attempted to explain the theory behind a "plan" to undermine the institution of American childhood by attacking language and concepts such as gender.

A recent informal investigation has identified many trans and non-binary people within the broader population of self-identifying MAPs - possibly as many as 7%.[4]

Dissent among MAPs and Trans people

Some MAPs and trans-identified people prefer not to encourage the trend of medicalization described at the start of this article, pointing out that medical provision of gender-affirming care is based on a diagnosis of pathology (gender dysphoria), and contend that trans people, like gays, represent normal human diversity, should not be pathologized or "expected to conform to gender stereotypes".

Some heterosexual male MAPs oppose medical transition on the basis that it "mutilates" the bodies of girls, and should never be put ahead of other forms of less invasive and permanent bodily autonomy.

Other MAPs have varying reservations about the philosophical compatibility of trans ideology as a whole, with liberation of boylove and minor attraction:

  • They may see trans ideology as an extension of the war on masculine eros/the appeal of boys to men.[5] For a more general perspective on male extinction, see Andriette, 2002.[6]
  • They may see gender-transitioning children, not as a prelude to increasing agency, but as part of the "bourgeois and desexualized" protectionist gaze of western orthodoxy, and thus entirely compatible with CSA norms.[7]

References