One of the goals of gender ideology is to force everyone, but especially those who might not feel certain about the issue, to question what they know to be true and accept a new reality that is, in fact, fiction.

Thus far, transgenderists have been alarmingly successful at this. Media outlets now use “preferred pronouns,” including bizarre and grammatically incorrect ones such as “they/them,” regularly — to the point where it is actually difficult to determine the true sex of the person in question. And nearly one-third of all young adults now say they know someone who identifies as a gender different than his or her biological sex. In most, if not all, of our institutions, this is the new normal.

The reason gender ideologues have been able to force their narrative upon the public is that they have framed any rejection of it or attempt to question it as an act of violence. For example, parents of gender-confused children are frequently told that if they do not affirm their son or daughter in his or her new gender identity, they will be pushing their child to the brink of suicide. Individuals with enough common sense to recognize that men should not be allowed into women’s bathrooms, prisons, and other sex-based facilities are accused of endangering the lives of “trans women,” or men who claim to be women.

It is a sinister and shameless tactic meant to scare people into submission. Really, it’s a threat.

For example, take a recent exchange between Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Khiara Bridges, a professor at the University of California Berkeley Law School, who was testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the legal consequences of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade . Hawley asked Bridges why she kept using the phrase “person with capacity for pregnancy” instead of simply saying “woman.” Bridges insisted that the term “woman” is not accurate since plenty of “trans men” and “nonbinary” persons can also become pregnant.

But when Hawley continued to press her on the issue, Bridges responded: “I want to recognize that your line of questioning is transphobic, and it opens up trans people to violence.”

“Wow, you’re saying that I’m opening up people to violence by asking whether or not women are the folks who can have pregnancies?” Hawley asked.

Bridges continued: “So I want to note that 1 out of 5 transgender persons have attempted suicide.”

“Because of my line of questioning?” Hawley responded.

“Because denying that trans people exist, and pretending not to know that they exist, is dangerous,” she said.

Bridges then asked Hawley if he believed men could get pregnant. When he responded no, she said, “So you’re denying that trans people exist.”

Bridges is pushing anti-biological nonsense. And this is the sort of exchange playing out all over the country. If you refuse to use someone’s preferred pronouns, point out that men have a distinct physical advantage over women and therefore shouldn’t be allowed to compete on women’s sports teams, or otherwise question transgenderism in any way, you will be accused of “opening up trans people to violence.”

This is how they’re able to silence people and force the unsuspecting to capitulate. It’s why the parents of Chloe Cole, a 17-year-old girl who detransitioned after undergoing hormonal treatments at 13 and subjecting herself to a double mastectomy at 15, allowed medical practitioners to harm their daughter irreparably: They were told they had no choice, that she would kill herself if they didn’t let her go through with it. It’s why Alaska Airlines fired two flight attendants who opposed the company’s decision to endorse the Equality Act (a deceptively named bill that would do immense harm to women and religious groups across the country): The airline didn’t want to be seen as not taking “bigotry” seriously. It’s why Twitter and other Big Tech platforms have deplatformed Jordan Peterson and others for referring to gender-confused persons by their original names. Such speech is considered “hateful conduct,” according to Twitter’s guidelines.

Those of us who know better have a responsibility to stand up for what is true. Men cannot be women, and women cannot be men. Women are the only people in the world capable of bearing children. Gender dysphoria is abnormal and should be treated as such. These are just facts, and we shouldn’t be afraid to say them out loud. And if doing so earns me the “hateful bigot” label, that’s something I can live with. At least I’ll have spoken the truth.