A transgender problem for diversity politics

Originally published by Robert Jensen at The Dallas Morning News

The surge of discussion about transgenderism — and growing support for policy goals of the transgender movement, such as public funding for sex-reassignment surgery — leaves many liberal/progressive people conflicted.

Of course, people who identify as transgender deserve empathy, respect, and justice, but what if some claims of the movement don’t make sense? What if the central claim seems incoherent?

Whatever one’s political position on racial justice and the problem of white supremacy, no one has trouble understanding the claims that people of color make.

Whatever one’s political position on sex equality and the problem of patriarchy, no one has trouble understanding the claims that women make.

Whatever one’s political position on sexual rights and the problem of heterosexism, no one has trouble understanding the claims that lesbians and gay men make.

But the political positions of the transgender movement are based on a claim that I don’t understand. Before accepting any particular policy proposal, I have to be able to understand the underlying claim.

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