For years, society has debated the proper role of a woman. Should she vote? Should she own property? Should she be considered a citizen in her own right or merely an extension of her husband? Should she pursue a career or stay at home instead?
On the one hand, there were — and still are — those who wanted to shove women in a box and limit their influence to the confines of the home. And on the other, there were many who, in pursuit of equality, drove women to distort their desires and reject their nature to become more dominant and independent than they needed to be.
But what no one has ever questioned before is whom the feminist debate is all about. No one stopped in the middle of the fight for suffrage, for example, to wonder how to define the word “woman.” It was a word that didn’t need defining because its meaning was, until very recently, self-explanatory: A woman is an adult female born with a uterus and breasts — and the only kind of person in the world capable of bearing children.
She is a person who was once denied the right to vote, own property, and represent herself legally for no reason other than the fact that she was an adult female born with a uterus and breasts. She is twice as likely as a male to be the victim of sexual assault and more than four times as likely to be the victim of domestic abuse, simply because she is an adult female with a uterus and breasts. She has been denied educational opportunities, is at risk for massive complications during childbirth, and has had to fight for equal representation in the workforce — all because of her biological sex.
I say all of this not to make us women out to be perpetual victims — because that’s not what feminism, properly understood, means — but to point out that this is a reality unique to women, one that is currently being erased by radical gender ideologues whose goal is to replace “sex” with the nebulous and meaningless term “gender identity.”
According to gender ideology, anyone who wants to be a woman can be a woman, even if he was born with a penis and all of the privileges that once accompanied it. All he has to do is speak “his truth” and perhaps try to look the part, too, whether that means donning a wig, undergoing hormone treatments to grow breasts, or cutting off one’s penis entirely. Add some “she/her” pronouns to a social media profile and, voila, you have yourself a woman.
The whole thing is absurd — offensively so. But it has somehow become a part of our mainstream culture and is embedded in everything from academia to the medical field, as Matt Walsh shows in his new documentary What is a Woman?
In the film, which was produced and released by the Daily Wire, Walsh interviews multiple gender ideologues, including a “gender-affirming” therapist, a licensed gynecologist and surgeon, a university professor, and a Democratic lawmaker. Each attempts to explain and make sense of gender ideology — only to reveal just how incoherent and ridiculous it actually is.
For example, in his interview with Dr. Marci Bowers, a surgeon who performs gender-reassignment procedures, Walsh asks what Bowers would say to an able-bodied patient who claims to be disabled and says he wants his arm amputated to match his identified disability. Bowers appears bewildered and says plainly that the patient would be considered someone suffering from a “mental diagnosis” or “psychiatric condition.”
“I don’t even pretend to know what apotemnophilia is all about,” Bowers says. “I would say that’s — pardon my nonmedical language — kooky.”
Some might say it’s also “kooky” for a gender-confused patient to want to mutilate his body to bring it up to speed with his new gender identity. But according to Bowers, there’s nothing wrong with this at all — even though the reassignment procedures required are experimental in nature and end up being “a bit of a Faustian bargain,” as Bowers put it, in that they’re “not always perfect.”
Bowers is far from the only medical professional who thinks this way. Walsh also interviewed Dr. Michelle Forcier, a pediatrician, who insisted that children as young as 4 years old can know that they are transgender. She admitted to Walsh that young children often believe in fantastical concepts, such as Santa Claus, and have a difficult time distinguishing between fact and fiction. Yet, despite this, she believes children should be trusted without reservation to make up their minds about which gender they are.
Shockingly, that wasn’t the most bizarre part of Forcier’s interview. When asked by Walsh why we observe nature and assume that animals fall into one of two sexes based on their behavior — for example, we assume a chicken that lays eggs is a female chicken — but are no longer allowed to do the same for human beings, Forcier responded, “Does a chicken have gender identity? Does a chicken cry? Does it commit suicide?”
As to Forcier’s last question, I’m not sure there’s any documented evidence of a chicken trying to off himself. There is, however, plenty of evidence that gender-confused adolescents who physically transition are at a higher risk of suicidal thoughts and attempts than their peers. But I’m sure that’s just part of the process.
There are so many other absurdities exposed in Walsh’s documentary that make it worth watching. But it also hits at an even more important point, the one on which gender ideology, and really all of modern-day progressivism, depends. And that is whether there is one truth, one reality, in which there are only two sexes, or whether truth itself is subjective and dependent on the whims of the individual.
Gender ideologues believe the latter, as they made clear to Walsh. Almost every time he pressed them on biological reality and how it ought to be defined, or whether it should be defined at all, the response was the same: “Well, that’s your truth, but it’s not mine.” Or, “A woman is a person who identifies as a woman, and all that matters is that she believes she is a woman.”
In one interview, for example, Walsh pressed Dr. Patrick Grzanka, a professor of women, gender, and sexuality studies at the University of Tennessee, on his definition of gender identity and whether a transgender woman with male genitalia and characteristics should be legally considered a male. Grzanka couldn’t understand why Walsh cared so much.
“Well, I think that when a person tells you who they are, you should believe them,” he said, adding that it shouldn’t be that difficult to respect another person’s gender identity in a social interaction.
Walsh clarified that he wasn’t worried about social interactions so much as he was worried about the root of the issue: whether the man who claims to identify as a woman is really a woman.
“Yeah, you know, I’m really uncomfortable with that language: ‘getting to the truth,’” Grzanka replied. “Because that sounds deeply transphobic to me, and if you keep probing, we’re gonna stop the interview … You keep invoking the word ‘truth,’ which is condescending and rude.”
This, ultimately, is what gender ideology is all about. It is a refusal to acknowledge, let alone define, the principles that have governed how we view ourselves and the world around us for tens of thousands of years. It is an attempt to rid society forever of objectivity — the idea that there is a right and a wrong, true and false, good and bad — and replace it with a subjective free-for-all that the Left gets to control. In the Left’s world, truth is a vague set of values that really only apply to the person who believes in them — unless, of course, you’re one of the old-fashioned, curmudgeonly “dinosaurs,” as Bowers put it. Then, your values don’t get to apply to anyone at all.
Gender ideology is nihilism at its worst, and women are the collateral damage. We are being told that our identity, our very existence, is no longer worthy of a distinct category. The protections we fought so hard to enjoy and the opportunities we secured are no longer ours — they also belong to any man, so long as he claims to be one of us. Now, men can trample female records in women’s sports; they can attack women in female prisons; they can use women’s locker rooms and restrooms; and they can claim female achievements as their own, even though they will never understand or experience the unique burdens of womanhood.
But we will not be the only ones who suffer the consequences. The Left’s efforts to redefine truth according to personal preferences and popular consensus will hurt everyone — not least those who fall for the ploy.
One of the most moving parts of Walsh’s documentary was his interview with Scott Newgent, a woman who decided to become a man when she was 42 years old. All that she feels now, Newgent told Walsh, is regret.
“I’ve had seven surgeries. I’ve had one stress heart attack. I’ve had a helicopter life ride with a pulmonary embolism. I’ve had 17 rounds of antibiotics. I had six inches of hair on the inside of my urethra for 17 months,” Newgent said. “Nobody would help me, including the doctor who did this to me, because I lost my insurance. I get infections every three to four months. I’m probably not going to live very long.”
This is why Walsh’s documentary is important: It not only exposes the impossible logical gymnastics gender ideology demands, but it also documents the ways in which it is harming individuals, their families, and communities.
Unfortunately, women are bearing the brunt of gender ideology’s devastation. But it’s not like this is something we haven’t experienced before. Men tried to tell us once before that our rights didn’t matter, that our very existence was secondary to theirs. We won’t let that happen again.