Jared Dobbs

The anti-LGBT hate group, Alliance Defending Freedom, confers upon employees some rather special titles. Jared Dobbs is their “Communication Integrity Specialist.” Which “communication” (singular) would that be I wonder? But I digress. On Wednesday Mr. Dobbs authors “The Demands of Gender Theory” at ADF’s blog.

The phrase “gender theory” was brought to prominence by Pope Francis. It was idiotic from him and it is idiotic from Dobbs. Those gentlemen haven’t the vaguest clue about what constitutes gender (or theory, for that matter). They simply lack the training and applicable experience. I am not sure how a theory makes “demands.” Furthermore, as long as we are tossing words like salad, let us understand what they mean in science:

  • A theory is an hypothesis that has been proven true. Therefore;
  • A theory is an explanation of scientific fact.

Therefore, gender theory would be an attempt to explain why some people are gender dysphoric. I haven’t seen much of that. In fact I have not seen any. It would have no relevance regarding how we, as a civil society, treat transgender people.

That might be why the Pope eventually changed to the use of the phrase “gender ideology.” It is a scientific fact that some people have an inconsistency between their chromosomal sex and their gender. This causes them discomfort which the APA has labeled gender dysphoria. The level of discomfort can be mild or severe or anything in between. Gender theory would be an attempt to explain the phenomenon. The important thing is that when it comes to public policy the theory is irrelevant. Now (finally), getting back to Dobbs:

The march of the sexual revolutionaries continues: they desperately want the judiciary to affirm each and every one of their brave, new demands. But the courts are having a difficult time navigating the terrain of the newest battleground—gender ideology. Last September, a federal district court in Ohio heard oral arguments in Board of Education of the Highland Local School District v. United States Department of Education. In that case, the Highland Local School District sought to respect the privacy of its students by ensuring that biological males and females use private facilities—locker rooms, showers, overnight accommodations, and restrooms—that correspond to their sex.

There is nothing revolutionary about gender. We have known about transgender people since ancient times. Mr. Dobbs follows the Pope in now using the meaningless phrase, “gender ideology” which is an attempt to detract from and deflect the scientific truth that some people do have gender dysphoria and that it can cause acute discomfort. Keep in mind that religious conservatives don’t accept the science. According to them everyone is born heterosexual and cisgender. Anything else is just a choice that people make. It is an attempt to conform the world to those ancient chronicles to which they are hopelessly and slavishly devoted. Gender is fact. Their book is an anthology of man’s understanding of the natural world thousands of years ago. We have learned a thing or two since then.

The guidance that courts require does not come from Moses or Jesus. It should come from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Medical Association. Apparently Mr. Session and Mr. Trump get their guidance from the former which means that we now have public policy based on superstition. Mr. Obama who, by the way, was far more Christian than Trump accepted the science which led to a very different public policy when it came to trans kids in our public schools. Trump and Sessions are causing some children to needlessly suffer because people like the Pope and Mr. Dobbs and the lawyers at ADF are willfully ignorant.

But taking that commonsense action would have violated the wayward standards of President Obama’s U.S. Department of Education, which had redefined the sex-based nondiscrimination provisions of Title IX to include the very different concept of gender identity. Schools risked losing federal funding if they did not open these facilities to individuals who profess a gender identity that conflicts with their sex—which means authorizing boys to enter the girls’ facilities, and vice versa. The district had little choice but to sue in federal court when federal officials came after them for protecting student privacy.

“Commonsense action” based on scripture is oxymoronic. The “wayward” standards of the Obama administration were based on science. Dealing with the religious right over gender identity is like negotiating with the Tobacco Institute. Worse still, Mr. Dobbs requires everything to be simplistic. This has nothing to do with boys using girls’ facilities. This is about transgender girls using girls’ facilities.

And just how far afield the federal position is was exemplified at oral argument, when the presiding judge had a revealing exchange with attorney Asaf Orr of the National Center for Lesbian Rights:

The Court: In this calculus, where do I place the concerns of other girls who don’t want to be viewed or share a bathroom with someone who, under Mr. Wardlow’s definition, is biologically a boy, a person who has male genitalia? What deference should the Court give to those interests of those students?

Mr. Orr: First, Your Honor, I would not say that Jane has male genitalia. But secondly, school districts have shown that –

The Court: Jane doesn’t have male genitalia?

Mr. Orr: No. As I indicated, gender and sex are much more complex than that. I think it would be inappropriate to label any part of her body as male.

Dobbs is unable to grasp what are, admittedly, complex concepts. The judge, however, likely understood precisely what Mr. Orr was explaining which is the difference between sex and gender which, again, is based upon scientific fact.

Note that the court’s line of questioning is trying to consider the privacy concerns of other students, like girls in changing facilities who are understandably uncomfortable undressing in front of a member of the opposite sex – or having a member of the opposite sex undress in front of them.

I note that the Court uses the term “other girls” which means that the judge has at least some understanding. Privacy is a valid concern. It is best addressed by having schools do what they do which is to teach. What we are talking about is merely a difference in physical appearance. From what we have seen, by the way, children seem to process this without much difficulty — that is until some Christian parent gets involved.

Think about this logically. What is the big deal of a girl sees another girl with a penis? Or vice versa? Are lives forever shattered? Modesty appears in the New Testament only twice and it refers to men and it means the reverse of ostentation or flaunting one’s wealth. In much of the world women nurse babies in public. American prudishness took centuries to fully develop and it often comes from the pulpit. It should not affect how we treat very fragile transgender children and there aren’t that many of them to be concerned about.

So-called progressives often fancy themselves as the tolerant ones who move society to a higher place. In this public debate, however, it is social conservatives who present a path forward, both for those struggling with gender dysphoria and for students who desire privacy and modesty. They suggest that schools offer individual-user private facilities for students who are experiencing gender-identity issues, or students who simply would like a little more privacy. That would enable other students to continue accessing locker rooms, restrooms, and overnight facilities that, as a matter of law, have always been reserved exclusively to their use, without encountering classmates of the opposite sex. Commonsense solutions like these best address the concerns of all students.

Social conservatives means religious conservatives. Let’s call it what it is. I have a better idea. If children have a problem with a trans student then they should use a special facility to avoid the contact. They will not be isolated or marginalized like a trans kid would be.

… For gender-identity theorists, a person’s “innermost sense of identity” is the standard by which we determine whether Jane is a boy or girl. And this claim is not a neutral, scientific statement, but a demand that gender ideology must apply to everyone.

A gender identity theorist would be one who explains why — not if. Again, theory is an explanation of scientific fact and words matter. Gender identity exists. Gender dysphoria is based on scientific fact. Gender dysphoria can be diagnosed by experienced clinicians and the level of discomfort can be gauged. There is nothing subjective about a child undergoing a social transition. We know which kids are gender nonconforming. This is all very neutral and scientific. Clinicians are agnostic with respect to their diagnoses. They have no vested interest either way.

If Jane’s body can’t tell us that Jane is a girl, then nobody’s body can tell us definitively if anybody is a girl. Every person’s biological sex is neutered, and we each fill in our blank gender canvas with our own subjective perceptions and desires. Gender-identity ideology asserts the absurd: that the very physiology that enables males and females to fulfill their reproductive role is merely a stereotype of sex, not the definitional characteristic.

Dobbs use of the word “ideology” conforms to Webster’s second definition: “a systematic body of concepts especially about human life or culture.” He is also using the word “subjective.” Redefining gender identity is not going to make it go away. It is based on scientific fact. Fact! What is hypothetical is the notion held by religious conservatives (including Dobbs) is that gender identity is (as he puts it) “subjective perceptions and desires.” That is just religiously-driven gibberish. An attempt at policy through superstition.

This shows that gender ideology does not operate at the margins, but trends toward totalization, as a recent flap over pronouns at the U.S. Supreme Court demonstrates. Our society should not mindlessly redefine the legal protections of sex-based anti-discrimination law to effectively neuter objective maleness and femaleness. Women have struggled too long against discrimination to have their protections undermined by gender-identity advocates.

It is not a concept. It is a reality that some people have gender dysphoria. There are gender nonconforming children in our public schools. They did not raise their hands and volunteer to be the objects of abuse. And it wasn’t a flap at the Supreme Court. The clerk of the Court formally admonished two lawyers who wrote amicus briefs in support of Gloucester Count School Board (Gloucester County School Board v. G.G.) for using incorrect pronouns when referring to trans people.

One of those, by the way, was from National Organization for Marriage. The clerk correctly noted that the Court captioned the case to include “G.G., by his Next Friend and Mother, Deirdre Grimm.” As a civil society we expect people to follow certain conventions. Trans people deserve pronouns consistent with their gender identity. Doing otherwise represents the intentional infliction of distress. That about sums up Brian Brown’s and Jared Dobbs’ inherent ugliness. They need to denigrate trans kids because those children are outside of the scriptural binary for sexuality.

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By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.