No, I’m not transphobic,’ popular radio show host Balázs Sebestyén said on-air during his morning show Balázsék on Rádió1. He and his co-hosts were commenting on—and poking fun at—the opening ceremony of the European Figure Skating Championships the weekend prior. In particular, the trio was aiming at the thick-legged, middle-aged Finnish male cross-dressing ice skater whose farcical solo skate had captured the attention of so many.
‘I don’t care what you wanted to be,’ Sebestyén continued. ‘This is your personal drama, your personal story. You operate yourself to be what you want. If you want to be a vizsla, lick a hunting lodge, but I don’t have to call you a vizsla. Don’t expect me to.’
The host’s libertarian, ‘you do you; I’ll do me’ approach to the topic, while mild by most modern standards, nonetheless drew the ire of at least one progressive writer. She found his jocularity ‘transphobic’ and his comments abhorrent such that ‘Fidesz-KDNP would stand and applaud upon hearing’ them.
It would be natural to pass the tiff off as of little consequence.
Radio hosts are paid to gab for ratings, just as far-left staff writers are paid to find injustice and oppression everywhere.
Something, however, about the story strikes me as significant. Perhaps a wise—that is, conservative—principle hangs in the balance between the positions of radio host and progressive journo, between calls for ‘live and let live’ on the one hand and screeches of ‘transphobia!’ on the other. Perhaps there is a broader cultural critique to be made—and wisdom to be inherited—within the narrower transgenderism debate.
I believe there is. But first, the bad news.
Something is Deeply Wrong With Us
Something is deeply wrong with us, and I do not mean only the five percent of the population who are gender-confused. As a culture, we’re adrift. My friends over at the Substack ‘The Postliberal Order’ say it straight: ‘We are addicted to endless innovations which don’t improve our lives, and the more we seek to transgress every moral limit, we find ourselves ever more solitary, ever more detached from ourselves, from our families, from our countries, and our God.’
Indeed, many factors contribute to our malaise. In the book On Human Nature, conservative thinker Roger Scruton identifies a specific one, ‘trivialising science.’ In today’s world, says Scruton, it is tempting to see ourselves primarily as material beings with instinctual urges and impulses. However, scripture and thousands of years of human experiences refute this notion, positing that humans are made in God’s image (male and female), created to love God and others with mind, body, and soul.
Transgenderism Is a Disorder
While most of us struggle to feel connected in the modern world, gender-confused people report feeling excruciatingly alienated from their bodies. The transgender movement turns on two beliefs: that some people are born in the wrong bodies and must work to emancipate themselves and that human subjectivity (thoughts, feelings) can override human physicality (biological reality).
In these modern misnomers, philosophy students might recognise the strains of ancient Gnosticism (the body imprisons the soul) or Cartesian dualism (the mind and body are dichotomous). And they would be right.
For millennia, humans have pondered the body’s relationship to the soul.
Only recently have they been able to alter chemically or surgically separate the two.
Transgenderism Is a Quasi-Religious Movement
Transgenderism today is promoted with the zeal of a campy evangelistic roadshow. Consider the skating event mentioned above. Skating fans reacted to the man’s solo skate with mixed reviews. One fan seemed to speak for many when she wrote in the comments section of one adulatory news article: ‘I don’t care about their gender. This person can’t skate. Seventeen years of lessons, and you can’t do front crossovers or turn around? Kind of embarrassing for them and for ice skating.’
Viewers did not understand that they had witnessed a lesson in the transgender cultural revolution, masquerading as a skating event. Does that sound extremist? Before the European Figure skating Championships, event officials issued a statement describing what the crowd could expect, highlighting the ‘just be you’ theme of the ‘spectacular opening ceremony,’ in which a male novice skater would solo skate dressed as a woman.
Speaking in tandem with other event planners, one Finnish skating official left little doubt about its ideology. ‘Figure skating is a very conservative sport with various strict rules,’ she told the press. ‘In international competitions, same-sex skating pairs are not allowed, and there is no category for non-binary skaters…If we want to change the world, we have to actively and visibly work for it and create rules that match our values.’
Transgenderism Is Culturally Corrosive
And they do indeed want to change the world, which is why many activists specifically target children and families–and do so in two distinctive ways. First, they leverage progressive rights language to their benefit. For example, under the guise that ‘trans rights are human rights,’ groups like Human Rights Watch (HRW) regularly vilify the government of Hungary for legislation that ‘attacks LGBT‘ people by spreading false ‘gender ideology.’ Among these so-called attacks was 2020 legislation in which ‘sex at birth’ replaced ‘gender’ in the civil registry upon a child’s birth and forbade altering the registry a later time.
Second, they apply radical trans-activist language to kids, so they can then accuse Hungary of violating those kids’ supposed rights. Consider the HRW’s statement on the Hungarian government’s voter referendum to confine kids’ sex education to the home: ‘Children do not need to be protected from exposure to diversity. On the contrary, LGBT children and families need protection from discrimination and violence.’ (italicised for emphasis).
Hungary’s Current Transgender Policy is Sound
Many of my Hungarian friends take the ‘live and let live’ approach to transgenderism. While they may privately agree with and benefit from the child and family safeguards the government has implemented in recent years, they sometimes seem embarrassed by the blowback those policies receive in the international press or European courts.
To be sure, being the object of vitriol and attack is unpleasant. On the other hand, their country is an example of what a nation looks like under conservative—that is, pro-family—governance. A self-governing nation makes its own laws, regardless of what globalist organisations prefer. A real nation draws on inherited wisdom, in this case, that of the great Christian heritage, as it marches into the future.
Transgenderism—that is, gender confusion—is not going away anytime soon; the trans activist lobby is steeled. Pressure to conform to trans ideology will only increase as more and more young people are indoctrinated into it. Moreover,
in the coming years, thousands, if not millions, will fall prey to the misguided promise that surgeries, hormones, and drugs can alleviate their feelings of self-alienation.
So, conservatives, let us come alongside those people with compassion and wisdom. But let us also not lose sight of the conservative vision of culture that is our lode star.
Speaking recently to a group of scholars on the challenges of the time, the Hungarian Prime Minister articulated a similar sentiment:
‘It’s difficult to imagine that the kind of extra liberal approach to the most important aspects of life can be maintained… a return to traditional values could be far quicker than we imagine.’
We can only hope.