On 15 July 2022, the European Commission decided to take Hungary to the EU Court of Justice over its alleged anti-gay law from the previous year, which became a major international news story during the Euro football tournament. In a time of national flag-waving and cheering, the rainbow flag essentially became the national symbol of Germany, which hosted Hungary for a 2:2 draw in the final group stage game in Munich on 23 June 2021. While the European football association, UEFA, did not allow the arena to be lit in rainbow colours due to required political neutrality, the rainbow flag was omnipresent on German public buildings, and replaced the German flag as the armband for Germany’s team captain, Manuel Neuer, for the whole, albeit short-lived, tournament in declared support of diversity, inclusion, equality, and in solidarity with the LGBT community.
In a tweet, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, called the law a ‘shame’ that goes against the EU’s fundamental values. At a meeting, 16 out of 27 EU member states condemned the Hungarian law, with a clear East–West divide on the issue. The United States Embassy in Budapest joined the protest by highlighting that it stands for freedom of expression and human rights.
The protest against Hungary that resonated from Munich throughout the Western world is based on a deep liberal conviction that can be captured by a famous quote of the pro-gay politician Harvey Milk: ‘It takes no compromise to give people their rights.’ One of the core moral tenets that the modern West carries in its DNA is the principle that everyone has the right to do whatever they want to do—as long as they do not harm or impinge on the rights of any other individual.
However, the Hungarian law does not prohibit homosexuality or the right of transgender people to transition as adults. The Hungarian Children Protection Act outlaws the positive portrayal of homosexuality and gender reassignment in educational materials and television shows for minors under the age of 18. As described by Balázs Hidvéghi, a member of the European Parliament for Fidesz, ‘sexual education has to be appropriate and what we don’t want is the intrusion of so-called LGBTQ+ lobby NGOs and pressure groups walking into kindergartens and schools to explain to children why it’s a great idea to have hormone treatments and operations to change their sex before they’re 18. These are not acceptable practices.’1
In the following, I will defend the indefensible for Westerners: Hungary got it right! I argue that transgenderism increasingly does compromise the rights of other people, and that minors need protection from unsubstantiated transgender propaganda.
Since the controversy over the Hungarian law, the claims that trans women are women and trans men are men have increasingly become orthodoxy in the Western world, which is reflected in new self-identification laws, allowing people to legally identify with the gender of their choice without further medical examinations. This, however, creates a conflict of rights over the access of transgender people to same-sex spaces, particularly in the case of women’s spaces and sporting competitions. Feminists have highlighted that the access to women’s spaces by transgender women could impinge on women’s rights and endanger their safety.2
‘Minors need protection from unsubstantiated transgender propaganda’
While these critics overwhelmingly originated from left-wing, feminist, or lesbian circles, thus from authors sympathetic to trans rights or even part of the LGTBQ+ community, they were viciously attacked as being ‘TERFs’ (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists) or transphobic by an online mob; what is more, these attacks have also frequently crossed over into real life. The philosophy professor Kathleen Stock was forced to resign from the University of Sussex as a consequence of a student and academic campaign calling for her dismissal over alleged transphobia in October 2021. Faika El-Nagashi, a member of the Austrian Parliament for the Green Party, was insulted and threatened by trans activists over her criticism of self-identification laws,3 leading to her exclusion as a lesbian woman from the Euro Central Asian Lesbian Conference in Budapest in late September 2022.
The trans issue has become a minefield in which critics face high social costs and ostracism if they dare to question the trans orthodoxy. This in turn affects which information the public receives on this issue—in particular, children and young teenagers. Accompanied by a fifty-page dossier and the signed support of hundreds of scientists, five scientists showed in a recent newspaper article that the German public broadcasting network indoctrinates children with a pro-transgender ideology that is not based on scientific facts.4 One of the authors of the article, the biology PhD student Marie-Luise Vollbrecht, had to cancel a lecture on the existence of two biological sexes at Humboldt University Berlin over threats by trans activists in July 2022.
In Australia, the police were called on parents complaining that the day-care centre of their five-year old child teaches the children about gender issues and transgenderism to an excessive degree.5 Tavistock Centre, a gender transition clinic in the UK, will be forced to shut down by spring 2023, as a medical review revealed that minors were rushed into treatment based on an ‘unquestioning affirmative approach’.6 In September 2022, pictures of a man with gigantic fake breasts and overtly sexualized clothing teaching in a high school in Ontario, Canada, emerged on the internet, prompting international media coverage and protests from parents. While students are not allowed to dress in a way that ‘exposes or makes visible genitals and nipples’, the school board ignored parents’ concerns and defended the teacher’s appearance with the right to gender identity and gender expression.7 Remarkably, the school prefers to remain silent when a man lives out his sexual fantasies in the classroom rather than enacting any measures that could be seen as ‘transphobic’.
These cases demonstrate that the warning by Balázs Hidvéghi from last year, namely that children are indoctrinated in kindergartens, schools, and the media by transgender propaganda, has become a dire quasi-religious reality in many Western countries.
Minors tend to be more susceptible to social trends and contagion, especially if these trends are presented one-sided in the media or on the internet, and are championed by social influencers. As a possible consequence, the number of minors identifying as transgender has skyrocketed in recent years throughout the West.8 However, self-identification alone is an insufficient criterion for diagnosis and identity. Jordan Peterson gives the example of patients suffering from anorexia, who incorrectly believe that they are overweight, while they are, in fact, too thin. Anorexic people often fail to see themselves as being thinner than other people, even though this is objectively the case, and no ethical person would consider the self-identification of anorexic persons as a valid evaluation for a fat-reduction operation.9
‘The trans issue has become a minefield in which critics face high social costs and ostracism’
Slavoj Žižek also describes the view of sexuality and self-expression within ‘LGBT+ ideology’ as naive and incompatible with Freudian insights. It suffers from a self-contradictory support for social constructivism on the one hand, and an implicit acceptance of biological determinism on the other. In the words of Žižek, ‘if an individual biologically identified/perceived as man experiences himself in his psychic economy a man, it is considered a social construct, but if an individual biologically identified/perceived as man experiences herself as woman, this is read as an urge, not a simple arbitrary construct but a deeper non-negotiable identity, which must be met by sex-changing surgery if the individual demands it.’10
Žižek hints at a broader liberal straddling of social constructivism and biological determinism when it comes to children’s education, which goes beyond the trans issue. For instance, Laura Bates claims that sexist stereotypes for toys and school education can have long-lasting effects on the upbringing of boys and girls.11 Governments and local authorities have banned or censor education materials that are deemed to be sexist.
A recent case of this liberal confusion is the government in Spain, which announced in April 2022 that it would ban toy advertising, which allegedly uses sexist stereotypes. A few weeks later, the same Spanish government passed a bill allowing minors of 16 to change their gender, and children as young as 12 with a judge’s permission. Thus, the Spanish government appears to hold the incompatible beliefs that children have a true, immutable gender identity that they need to live out if the identity is trans, while it is possible—and desirable—to change or suppress the identities of boys and girls if the identity somewhat conforms to so-called sexist stereotypes.
Apart from this logical inconsistency, the key problem of transgenderism is that—unlike other civil rights issues that often do not require a compromise—the transition process comes with substantial negative health consequences for the individuals, including sexual dysfunctions and brain development that are difficult or impossible to reverse. Minors have a limited understanding of their identity and future preferences, and, by definition, they are under special protection by the state, which also means that they should not have access to the same choices as adults.
Transgenderism could actually exacerbate other mental health conditions due to the negative health consequences caused by the transition, but also because of its own ideological tenets. Instead of teaching acceptance and valuing oneself, transgenderism suggests to a boy or girl who does not conform to gender roles, that he or she might be in the wrong body, instilling an early belief that his or her body is currently deficient, which is a heavy psychological burden on a minor who should develop a healthy identity.12
In conclusion, the transgender issue shows that the real-world liberal order is a far cry from its claimed neutrality about people’s choices. As described by Patrick Deneen, and as we have seen in Spain, the liberal regime actively promotes its own conception of a good order of flexible and alternative identities.13 Critics who point out that the transgender orthodoxy violates women’s rights or rests on questionable arguments and evidence are regularly ostracized or face substantial social costs. The Hungarian Children Protection Act appears to be a reasonable response to protect minors from the excesses of transgenderism that we now witness on a regular basis in many Western countries.
As more and more countries implement self-identification laws across the West, I recommend that these governments consider expanding it with what I call the public-responsibility law.
‘The liberal regime actively promotes its own conception of a good order of flexible and alternative identities’
Given the substantial long-term consequences of transgender transitions and the dubious arguments and evidence in favour of transgenderism, the burden of proof should be on the side of transgenderism’s supporters. Currently, we are witnessing a cycle of virtue signalling, as publicly supporting the transgender orthodoxy and calling out critics as transphobic is cheap talk. In the case of politicians, activists, and influencers, they personally might even benefit from it by gaining power, votes, and clicks (and money, if they are associated with the medical transition industry, which earns a fortune from hormone treatments and operations). However, if they truly believe their own transgender propaganda, they should not feel bothered by being held personally liable and accountable for compensation to transitioned children whose lives were not improved but rather destroyed by changing their gender.
Of course, the probability of such a ‘public-responsibility law’ is essentially zero. But if it were to be implemented, the transgender trend that is based on ideology rather than evidence would evaporate quicker than it appeared. A first, positive step is the prospect of up to 1,000 families suing the British National Health Service, over clinical negligence towards their children at London’s Tavistock Centre14—a scandal that fortunately will not be witnessed in Budapest.
1 Kate Connolly, ‘Hungary’s Orbán Cancels Euro 2020 Trip to Munich after Rainbow Row’, The Guardian (23 June 2021), www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jun/23/hungary-viktor-orban-cancels-euro-2020-trip-to-munich-after-rainbow-row-germany, accessed 14 October 2022.
2 Jill Foster and Nicole Lampert, ‘Voices Forgotten in the Push for Gender Neutral Changing Rooms—Disabled Women, Rape Victims and Religious Groups: They All Respect the Rights of Trans Women, but Here They Ask: What about Ours?’, Daily Mail (16 July 2022), www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11019251/Forgotten-voices-push-gender-neutral-changing-rooms-support-trans-rights.html, accessed 20 September 2022.
3 Florian Klenk, ‘Das Wort Frau darf nicht verschwinden’, Der Falter, 28/22 (12 July 2022), www.falter.at/zeitung/20220712/das-wort-frau-darf-nicht-verschwinden.
4 Uwe Steinhoff, ‘Gender Ideology Comes to Germany’, Quillette (20 July 2022), https://quillette.com/2022/07/20/gender-ideology-comes-to-germany.
5 Danyal Hussain, ‘Parent of five-year-old child has cops called on them after raising concerns about a day care centre for teaching kids about transgenderism and sexual identity: “There was an entire wall of things like pansexual and lesbian’’’, Daily Mail (21 July 2022), https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ article-11035059/Cops-called-Sydney-parents-anger-centre-teaching-sexual-identity-transgenderism.html, accessed 14 October 2022.
6 Eleanor Hayward, ‘Tavistock Gender Clinic Forced to Shut over Safety Fears’, The Times (28 July 2022), www.thetimes.co.uk/article/tavistock-gender-clinic-forced-to-shut-over-safety-fears-wpdx3v6nw.
7 Tristin Hopper, ‘Ontario Transgender Teacher Sparks Controversy by Wearing Giant Prosthetic Breasts in Class’, National Post (21 September 2022), https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/ontario-transgender- teacher-sparks-controversy-by-wearing-giant-prosthetic-breasts-in-class.
8 Eric Kaufmann, ‘Born This Way? The Rise of LGBT as a Social and Political Identity’, Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology, CSPI Report No. 6, www.cspicenter.com/p/born-this-way-the-rise-of-lgbt-as-a- social-and-political-identity, accessed 14 October 2022.
9 Kyle Kulinski, ‘Surprise: A Debate with Jordan Peterson’, Krystal Kyle & Friends Episode 80, https://krystalkyleandfriends.substack.com/p/surprise-a-debate-with-jordan-peterson, accessed 14 October 2022.
10 Slavoj Žižek, Hegel in a Wired Brain (London: Bloomsbury Academic), 82.
11 Laura Bates, ‘Young Children Must Be Protected from Ingrained Gender Stereotypes’, The Guardian (23 February 2015), www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/womens-blog/2015/feb/23/sexist-assumptions-young-children-gender-stereotypes, accessed 14 October 2022.
12 Alexander Korte, ‘Kehren wir zurück zu einem Dialog—dem Kindeswohl und der Wissenschaft zuliebe’, Die Welt (22 June 2022), www.welt.de/debatte/kommentare/article239506163/Transgender-Debatte-Kehren-wir-zurueck-zu-einem-Dialog.html.
13 Patrick Deneen, Why Liberalism Failed (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2018).
14 Martin Beckford, ‘Tavistock Transgender Clinic Could Face Mass Legal Action from 1,000 Families of Children Who Claim They Were Rushed into Taking Life-altering Puberty Blockers Weeks after NHS Shut it down in Wake of Damning Report’, Daily Mail (11 August 2022), www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11101661/Tavistock-transgender-clinic-facing-mass-legal-action-1-000-families.html.