Next Thursday, I will get a vagina. The procedure will last around six hours, and I will be in recovery for at least three months. Until the day I die, my body will regard the vagina as a wound; as a result, it will require regular, painful attention to maintain. This is what I want, but there is no guarantee it will make me happier. In fact, I don’t expect it to. That shouldn’t disqualify me from getting it.
Could there possibly be a more succinct statement of our very particular cultural madness? What I want is against nature, and I believe it will make me miserable, but I want it, and you had all better give it to me.
Chu goes on to say that being on estrogen has made him even unhappier than he was to begin with:
Like many of my trans friends, I’ve watched my dysphoria balloon since I began transition. I now feel very strongly about the length of my index fingers — enough that I will sometimes shyly unthread my hand from my girlfriend’s as we walk down the street. When she tells me I’m beautiful, I resent it. I’ve been outside. I know what beautiful looks like. Don’t patronize me.
I was not suicidal before hormones. Now I often am.
I won’t go through with it, probably. Killing is icky. I tell you this not because I’m cruising for sympathy but to prepare you for what I’m telling you now: I still want this, all of it. I want the tears; I want the pain. Transition doesn’t have to make me happy for me to want it. Left to their own devices, people will rarely pursue what makes them feel good in the long term. Desire and happiness are independent agents.
But I also believe that surgery’s only prerequisite should be a simple demonstration of want. Beyond this, no amount of pain, anticipated or continuing, justifies its withholding.
Nothing, not even surgery, will grant me the mute simplicity of having always been a woman. I will live with this, or I won’t. That’s fine. The negative passions — grief, self-loathing, shame, regret — are as much a human right as universal health care, or food. There are no good outcomes in transition. There are only people, begging to be taken seriously.
Do you see what’s happening here? Chu says that the treatments doctors have given him are making him sicker, even making him desire suicide. But if he wants to suffer and to die, then he should have that right. Satisfying desire is the only thing that matters.
This poor man with asparagus-colored hair is going to submit to mutilation next week, and will have to spend the rest of his life inserting an object into the wound surgeons will have made in his pubic area, to prevent his body from healing itself. This man — “like many of my trans friends” — expects this medical procedure to make him no happier, and in fact may make him feel more miserable, even suicidal.
But he wants it. People like him want all of society to upend its laws, its customs, and its norms to facilitate that desire, and to act like there’s nothing wrong with it. And society is giving them what they want, and punishing those who deny that this is paradise.
Freeing the autonomous will from sex and gender norms is the summum bonum of contemporary American progressivism. The insatiably miserable Andrea Long Chu is its incarnation.
“The significance of sexual difference has never before been contingent upon a creature’s preferences, or upon whether or not God gave it episodically to a particular creature to have certain preferences,” writes Catholic theologian Christopher Roberts. He goes on to say that for Christians, the meaning of sexuality has always depended on its relationship to the created order and to eschatology—the ultimate end of man. “As was particularly clear, perhaps for the first time in Luther, the fact of a sexually differentiated creation is reckoned to human beings as a piece of information from God about who and what it meant to be human,” writes Roberts.
Contrary to modern gender theory, the question is not Are we men or women? but How are we to be male and female together? The legitimacy of our sexual desire is limited by the givenness of nature. The facts of our biology are not incidental to our personhood. Marriage has to be sexually complementary because only the male-female pair mirrors the generativity of the divine order. “Male and female he made them,” says Genesis, revealing that complementarity is written into the nature of reality.
Easy divorce stretches the sacred bond of matrimony to the breaking point, but it does not deny complementarity. Gay marriage does. Similarly, transgenderism doesn’t merely bend but breaks the biological and metaphysical reality of male and female. Everything in this debate (and many others between traditional Christianity and modernity) turns on how we answer the question: Is the natural world and its limits a given, or are we free to do with it whatever we desire?
Andrea Long Chu’s sexualized wound that will never heal is progressivism’s answer. More from The Benedict Option:
Future historians will wonder how the sexual desires of only three to four percent of the population became the fulcrum on which an entire worldview was dislodged and overturned. A partial answer is that the media are to blame. Back in 1993, a cover story in the Nation identified the gay rights cause as the summit and keystone of the culture war:
All the crosscurrents of present-day liberation struggles are subsumed in the gay struggle. The gay moment is in some ways similar to the moment that other communities have experienced in the nation’s past, but it is also something more, because sexual identity is in crisis throughout the population, and gay people—at once the most conspicuous subjects and objects of the crisis—have been forced to invent a complete cosmology to grasp it. No one says the changes will come easily. But it’s just possible that a small and despised sexual minority will change America forever.
We have gone beyond gay people to allow transgender people — fewer than one percent of the population — to change America forever.
Progressives! They make a desert and call it peace. They carve a gash and call it a vagina. They make us all insane, and call the sane crazy.
If you want to save yourself and your children from this doom, turn your back on it now. Let the dead bury their dead. Let our finest surgeons gouge holes into our mentally ill young people, and call them heroes.
What about the Hippocratic Oath? Here you have someone declaring on the pages of The New York Times that the surgery he is about to have will not make him happier, and in fact may drive him to suicide. But he doesn’t care. He wants that he wants. In a just order, those surgeons would be charged with a crime if they go through with this. Desire is the only criterion of health, is that where we are now? What if someone desires to have their legs amputated? Or to commit suicide? Where are the limits?
Nihilists. We are nothing but nihilists. We are wicked and deserve to be judged.
Transition is expensive. I’m lucky enough to have insurance that covers hormones and (most of) vaginoplasty, which I am getting in November. Everything else, including facial feminization surgery, hip augmentation surgery, vocal surgery, is considered “cosmetic,” and therefore insurance won’t cover it. That makes paying out of pocket the only option.
I live on a stipend from NYU, where I’m a doctoral student, plus money I make writing freelance. I’m hoping to sell a trade book in the next year, but that remains to be seen, and even if it’s a good deal it may not free up the funds necessary for my surgeries.
Dysphoria can be hard to describe. I’ve said elsewhere it feels like heartbreak. I like to talk a big talk about how all transition-related surgeries are cosmetic, and they are—no one wants to transition into an ugly person—but it’s also true that without any of these surgeries my suicide risk is much, much higher.
Give me money for surgery or I might kill myself. Or, according to me in The New York Times, give me money for surgery and I might kill myself anyway. It’s my right!
UPDATE.2: Transgender columnist at the NYT miffed that Chu is off-Narrative:
It is always good to have diverse trans voices on the page. I love that. But calling the business “a wound” instead of the gooshy miracle it is? Emphasizing misery and suffering and self-loathing? Is that what is most needed to be shouted into the megaphone at this perilous hour?
UPDATE.3: On Chu’s website, he posts a PDF link to a paper he delivered earlier this year at a Columbia University conference. This is the kind of thing they’re talking about at one of America’s great universities. The paper is titled “Did Sissy Porn Make Me Trans?” There are no images, but don’t click through to it and start reading unless you are prepared to go to an extremely dark place. I almost didn’t post this here, but after thinking about it, I concluded that it’s actually vitally important to know.
I’m going to summarize the paper for those who don’t want to read it. Again, I cannot caution you strongly enough about its content, and the pornographic images Chu describes in detail in the paper.
The paper’s title comes from a comment Chu saw on an online forum. “Sissy porn,” we learn from the paper, is a genre in which submissive men are forced to have sex with other men, in such a way that their masculinity is forcibly taken from them. Chu says this genre is also called “forced feminization porn.” Chu says that sissy porn explicitly intends to turn male viewers into transsexuals, in part by “instruct[ing] them to understand their addiction to the genre as constitutive of their own feminization.” Chu writes:
Now Jon would hardly be the first closeted trans woman whose gender dysphoria felt like porn addiction. Indeed, the internet is full of women like this, if you know where to look. The phenomenon is common enough, in fact, to have given rise to an entire subgenre of anxiety fielding on the popular discussion website Reddit. In typical post from 2014, titled “Did sissy porn make me trans or was I trans all along?,” one user writes: “About 3 years ago, I discovered sissy hypno videos [that’s “hypno” like short for “hypnotism”], which in a nutshell are flashing subjective images telling you to wear panties, be girly… and even take hormones. I became completely obsessed with these videos….”
This person is now “95% sure she is trans,” writes Chu.
Now, imagine a confused 12-year-old boy — perhaps one experiencing same-sex desires — finding sissy porn on his smartphone, and giving himself over to it. It’s only a few clicks away.
Chu goes on to talk about the dynamics of sissy porn. Here’s is a key portion, one I can quote here
Sissyhood is not the obliteration of subjectivity, but its diminishment. Sissies have selves, in other words, but these selves are simplified, emptied, dumb. The technical term for this is bimboification. Numerous captions instruct spectators to submit themselves to hypnosis, brainwashing, brain-melting, and other techniques for scooping out intelligence.
Chu describes, unprintably, that the porn video’s explicit instructions order the viewer to surrender his entire to the sexually dominant male’s desires. The act of sexual submission is not only castration, and the willed destruction of the submissive’s masculinity, it is — this is crucial — also the willed destruction of personhood. Of sexualizing the desire for obliteration.
What Chu describes here is the process of demonic possession. If that is what is in Andrea Long Chu’s head, no wonder he is depressed and suicidal. This is profoundly evil stuff.
UPDATE.4: Read this comment. Do you let your kid have a smartphone and/or unsupervised Internet access? You might want to rethink that:
The third update really struck a cord with me. I am familiar with sissy porn, having discovered it in high school, and it’s much broader than what Chu is referring to. Some background on me: I am a millennial, I was raised Catholic, and I first discovered Internet porn at a friend’s house when I was 12 years old.
When I was in high school and we first got Internet access at home, I used it to look for porn when no one was around. In the first few years, I had pretty typical straight teenage boy interests when it came to porn. Having been poorly formed in male-female dynamics, however, I was very interested in having power over women, and this led me to search for hypnosis.
Since this was a very small niche back then (I imagine there’s a large catalog for every fetish out there now), I absorbed whatever material I could find, and within a few months, this led me to the site of a woman who specialized in hypnotizing men and making them think they were women. Although the latter part just seemed gross, as I had no interest in being a woman, something about the power exchange appealed to me, even though it never did before. I have a theory that this is a pattern for frequent porn users: they may initially look for other things, but with enough exposure, they desire to be a passive sexual participant since it involves less effort on their part.
Despite the feminization aspect, I kept going down this rabbit hole as the thought of being the submissive one was appealing. So I did my best to avoid the sissy stuff at first, reading stories, downloading audios, and later watching videos where women claimed to hypnotize men (there is a whole cottage industry of female hypnotists who record audios and videos for this purpose, which I would not encourage you or your readers to investigate). As much as I tried to avoid it, though, the sissy audios and videos were hard to miss. There was clearly a market for it since so much was being produced, and I would occasionally partake when it was what I could find for free. Eventually, I didn’t care what they asked me to do in these recordings. Being under the power of a woman was what was appealing.
By the time I reached my 20s, I was in deep. Later in my 20s, I also discovered the free streaming porn sites, and I was eager to see what content I could find on them. I’d just throw in a few hypnosis key words in my search, and the sissy hypno videos that Chu wrote about started popping up. In fact, they seemed to be the bulk of the hypnosis themed content. I clicked a few of them, since I couldn’t find much else. They’d usually feature transsexual images or video clips with words popping up suggesting that the viewer engage in female grooming or sexual behavior. The audio for these was either airy pop songs, the female hypnotists I’d discovered before, moaning noises, or some combination of the above.
The discovery of these videos led me to reflect on how big my problem had become. From high school through my 20s, I’d gone from looking at pictures of naked women to watching videos of women hypnotizing men or abusing them. And you’d better believe there was some transsexual porn in there too – I doubt many who look at what I looked at don’t eventually come around to seeking transsexual porn, too.
On the non-porn side of life, I had no ability to attract women or get a girlfriend, probably because porn had convinced me to be passive and wait for them to come to me. With no success with women as a man, transitioning seemed like it might give me a shot at happiness and sexual prospects. I began browsing transgender forums and reading their literature and web comics. I looked into what it would take for me to start hormone replacement therapy. If it weren’t for my Catholic upbringing and the crazy advice they gave on these forums (lie to therapists, separate yourself from family and friends who don’t respect your decision, etc.), I might have made an irreversible mistake.
Although most transgender forums deny that sissy porn has any impact on their decision to transition, there are places where they are a little more forthcoming: 4chan and similar anonymous style message boards. While it’s hard to tell who’s telling the truth and who isn’t on these boards, an awful lot of them feature transsexual/sissy porn and are frequented by posters who claim to be transsexual themselves. There’s one in particular designed for lonely un(der)employed young men where threads regularly appear suggesting that they look for transsexual girlfriends or become transsexual themselves, often offering advice on how to get started.
I don’t know who’s making all of this stuff, but with all the videos and message board posts, there is an awful lot of content being produced that seems to be designed to reach lonely young men and recruit them into the ranks of the transsexual community. Content doesn’t make itself. Someone is putting a lot of effort into this. There are so many of these sissy hypnosis videos, and those take time to edit. And on 4chan and similar forums, posts disappear quickly. To keep appearing near the top, people have to start new threads, which we’re not dealing with a few actors who made some videos and retired – some people are still at work trying to recruit young men who are addicted to porn and feel like they have nothing going for them. Who these actors are and what they want, I cannot say.
I am fortunate that I rediscovered my faith in adulthood and got my act together. I have since married and am raising children with my wife. However, it still haunts me to think how differently things may have gone for me, and I pray regularly for boys and young men who took the other path or face a temptation to that path. I did not feel any predisposition to homosexuality or gender confusion, and yet it almost ensnared me.