I have been focusing on one theme in recent posts, namely de-transition stories, and would like to do just one more. The account this time is by a young man, Steven Richards, who transitioned not because of gender dysphoria but because identifying as trans provided a community and a purpose lacking in his life:
I went from being a lonely, insecure teenager to a member of a loving community engaged in a heroic battle against an evil society that desired my destruction. Left-wing oppression narratives disseminated online and in local “queer youth” groups run by adult members of the movement cast “cis” people as villains. "Transitioning" was a baptismal ritual in which I was cleansed of my wicked nature as a “cis male” oppressor and reborn as a virtuous “marginalized” person with a new name and body.
Adult transsexuals online coached me on how to convince my parents, doctors, and therapists that I was suffering from gender dysphoria. The term supposedly refers to an incongruence between one’s sexed body and internal sense of gender but is used among transgender people as a catch-all term for any negative emotion. It’s an attractive narrative for vulnerable teenagers who are struggling with their developing bodies, sexualities, and the looming responsibilities of adulthood.
This is similar to the account by Helena in an earlier post who wrote that adopting a trans identity allowed her to enjoy the camaraderie of like-minded youths and to escape the burden of being a "cis" person within a political milieu where this made you an evil oppressor.
Transitioning did not make Steven any happier; unfortunately, he decided to keep taking more radical steps along this path before finally deciding that none of this was ever going to be a solution for his emotional problems.
I'm half way through reading the book After Virtue by Alasdair MacIntyre. The content of the book goes some way, I think, in explaining how we could ever have reached this point (I'm not claiming it explains everything, just that it sets out some of the groundwork).
What MacIntyre focuses on is the loss of a teleological view, particularly during the Enlightenment. The classical approach was to think of man as having an untutored nature, that then had to be disciplined by moral precepts and habits, so that he could fully realise his telos (his ends/purposes as a man).
The Enlightenment strongly rejected an Aristotelian teleology, which then severed the inherited store of moral belief from its practical role in guiding man toward his true ends.
If we still had the idea that our nature as men contains within it a potential telos, and that we are to be ordered toward fulfilling this telos through moral self-discipline, then there would not be the same grounds for young men like Steven to believe that purpose was to be found through the rejection of his own sexed body.
The older Aristotelian view is fast declining within modern culture, but there are still remnants of it. The idea that there is meaning and purpose within our essence as men is not entirely lost.
Here, for instance, is a comment by a woman defending men from the usual charges:
This woman also recognises the good within the masculine: