The trans movement’s disturbing obsession with children — the “all ages” drag shows, the pornographic books in school libraries, the push to allow the castration and sterilization of minors — isn’t just an aggressive tactic to prove that transgender people are safe around kids or to groom kids into becoming trans. It’s part of a broader strategy to normalize pedophilia.
That strategy is becoming more explicit every day. Recently a group of Democrat legislators in Minnesota, led by the state’s first transgender lawmaker, introduced a bill that would have removed language in Minnesota’s Human Rights Act that explicitly says pedophilia is not a “sexual orientation” as defined by state statute.
By removing that language, the bill would have opened the door to widening the definition of sexual orientation to include pedophilia as a protected class alongside other minorities.
Ultimately the effort failed, and the Democrat-controlled state House was persuaded by a Republican lawmaker to amend the so-called “Take Pride Act” (HF 1655) to clarify that pedophilia “is not a protected class under this chapter.”
But the push by trans activists to change this language is instructive, because it tells you exactly what the movement is all about and where it’s headed.
The state’s Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, already defines the term so broadly as to be largely meaningless. According to Minnesota law, “sexual orientation” is “having or being perceived as having an emotional, physical, or sexual attachment to another person without regard to the sex of that person or having or being perceived as having an orientation for such attachment, or having or being perceived as having a self-image or identity not traditionally associated with one’s biological maleness or femaleness.”
Everyone got that? In Minnesota, according to state statute, “sexual orientation” can mean almost anything. Perhaps because of this capacious definition, the law included this caveat: “‘Sexual orientation’ does not include a physical or sexual attachment to children by an adult.”
That’s the language these Democrat lawmakers wanted to remove. The “Take Pride Act” was introduced earlier this year by state Rep. Leigh Finke, a man who began presenting as a woman in 2017 and since taking office earlier this year has focused on making Minnesota a “sanctuary state” for the transing of children. Specifically, he has pushed legislation that ensures that minors from across the country can get experimental and irreversible surgeries in Minnesota like vaginoplasty, in which the penis is removed and a “neovagina” is constructed from colon tissue, or phalloplasty, in which a nonfunctioning “penis” is made by carving flesh from the forearm.
These things have been Finke’s priority — along with removing clarifying language that excludes pedophilia from the state’s impossibly vague definition of sexual orientation, and adding a separate definition of gender identity to the Human Rights Act that can only be described as gnostic. It reads: “‘Gender identity’ means a person’s inherent sense of being a man, woman, both, or neither. A person’s gender identity may or may not correspond to their assigned sex at birth or to their primary or secondary sex characteristics. A person’s gender identity is not necessarily visible to others.”
Asked why he wanted to remove language that specifically excludes pedophilia as a sexual orientation, Finke tried to dodge the question, telling Fox News only that the language in question “incorrectly ties pedophilia to a person’s sexual orientation,” and that nothing in his bill “changes or weakens any crimes against children, or the state’s ability to prosecute those who break the law.”
In a statement, GOP House Minority Leader Lisa Demuth said the attempt to strike the language about pedophilia was “disturbing and inexplicable.”
While it’s certainly disturbing, it’s not inexplicable. It’s the predictable consequence of the moral relativism that has come to define our age — what the theologian David Bentley Hart has aptly called the “absolute liberty of personal volition,” whereby individual desire and “freedom of choice” are the highest good, untethered to any objective notion of the Good, much less God.
The transgender movement is animated by precisely this ideology, which enshrines personal volition and autonomy as the highest good — indeed as the only good.
Finke and Minnesota Democrats disingenuously claimed they were just trying to clean up the language of the state’s Human Rights Act, which they claimed inappropriately tied pedophilia to sexual orientation. Setting aside that astounding bit of goalpost-shifting, the unavoidable truth is that their efforts fit with a broader pattern on the left of sexualizing children and normalizing pedophilia as merely expressions of personal volition. Children, so the thinking goes, have a “right” to express their gender identity, and teachers, for example, have a duty to help them even if it means deceiving parents. And everyone, they claim, has a “right” to embrace, without apology, their unchosen sexual orientation — even if our societal norms haven’t yet evolved enough to recognize the legitimacy of adult-child sexual attraction.
In the long-ago time of 2019, Stella Morabito explained in these pages the push to normalize pedophilia and sexualize childhood. “We cannot dismiss the campaign to legalize pedophilia as fringy stuff that will get nowhere,” she wrote. “It’s real and it’s here and it’s gaining strength. It’s a very logical outgrowth of the nihilism inherent in the sexual revolution.”
If that sounded like a stretch four years ago, it’s a straightforward statement of fact today. Morabito simply had the good sense to see what had been happening for years and take the sexual revolutionaries at their word. Much of it began, as such things often do, in academia, with the substitution of the phrase “minor-attracted person” for “pedophile,” a construction that began appearing in academic books and peer-reviewed papers as a way to destigmatize pedophilia and present it as an unchosen sexual orientation.
This effort has been underway for some time now. As far back as 2013, the American Psychiatric Association briefly reclassified pedophilia as a sexual orientation in its fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-5. Amid an understandable outcry, the APA claimed it was an error and hastily issued a correction, changing the term “sexual orientation” to “sexual interest.” Nevertheless, the DSM-5 still makes a distinction between pedophilia as a “paraphilia,” a desire not acted upon, versus pedophilia as a “pedophilic disorder,” which ordinary people would call child molestation or sexual assault.
Then came the “brave” TED talks arguing that pedophilia should be treated as an unchosen sexual orientation, along with articles in outlets like Salon, Vice, and New York Magazine that attempted to mainstream the idea of the “virtuous pedophile,” that there’s nothing wrong with being sexually attracted to children as long as one doesn’t act on it.
Meanwhile, the academic papers kept rolling in, arguing in ever more explicit terms that there are no legitimate ethical or moral objections to adult-child sex.
Before long, “drag kids” broke into the mainstream, with a TV show on Discovery Plus, “Generation Drag,” and the regular appearance of fawning articles in outlets like NBC News about drag kids “slaying the runway — one ‘fierce’ look at a time.”
“Good Morning America” featured child drag queens dancing suggestively for audiences of grinning dupes, smug in their belief that tolerating and affirming the blatant sexualization of children marked them out as enlightened and humane. These would be the same people who would appear at drag brunches all over the country in the years to come, kids in tow, nodding and clapping along to the sexually explicit dance routines of adult men in drag.
They are often the same people who riotously descended on state capitols in Texas, Montana, and Tennessee in recent weeks to protest bills that would ban the castration and mutilation of minors in the name of so-called “gender-affirming care.” These people have shown themselves willing to mob up and disrupt legislative proceedings in the name of transing youth, even willing in some cases to tussle with police and get arrested. They seem to believe what they say they believe. Maybe we should take them at their word.
And if we take them at their word, then we should also take their philosophy and its imperatives seriously. Simply put, the logic of the trans movement leads inexorably to a justification of pedophilia. If a minor can so completely know his “gender identity” that he is able to consent to major, irreversible surgeries and treatments — castration and genital mutilation and sterilization — then the horizon of what he can consent to opens up considerably. Indeed, it has no limits. If he chooses to have sex with an adult, who are we to say that’s wrong, to deny him the ability to live as his most authentic self?
That’s where all this is going, and that’s what was behind the push to remove the pedophile language from the Minnesota statute. To deny it, at this late hour, is to indulge in willful self-delusion. The situation is actually as bad as it seems, and the ascendant trans movement really is coming for our children. Once we accept that reality, we can begin to think clearly about what we should do about it.
John Daniel Davidson is a senior editor at The Federalist. His writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Claremont Review of Books, The New York Post, and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter, @johnddavidson.
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