Reading Tea Leaves

A recent article from The Atlantic discusses the relationship between gender non-conforming children and later social transitioning. Much depends on where one starts. Looking at the nonconforming children, the study finds that some will, some won’t socially transition, that the intensity of experience of nonconformity increases the probability of social transitioning. This suggests that the universe, the meaning of childhood gender nonconformity, is not only larger, but carries other meanings for the children themselves.

However, looking from the viewpoint of one who has socially transitioned, it is clear that the shape of one’s life was there from early on. A useful paragraph captures the reality:

“Implicit in a lot of people’s concerns about social transition is this idea that it changes the kids in some way, and that making this decision is going to necessarily put a kid on a particular path,” says (Kristina) Olson. “This suggests otherwise.” Children change their gender because of their identities; they don’t change their identities because they change their gender.”

A second aspect of the story will be its social location. The children studied are all from the upper middle class. The opening acceptance of gender non-conformity at a young age may be grounded in the advantages and perspectives of this class. Do their advantages and intellectual understanding allow them to respond earlier, in a more open fashion? Does it especially allow them to see? Elsewhere, the evidence is still out whether other children in say, blue collar household, experience their gender non-conformity in the same manner, with the same outcomes in terms of social transition.

Adding to the need for further research is that the CDC now reports that two percent of teens consider themselves transgender. As the early study by Olson highlights, what that means will need to be studied longitudinally.

Finally the question for all of us remains, whether who we understand ourselves to be now is a sort of persona, or the sign of something to become. How do we read those tea leaves for our selves?

Ed Yong. “Young Trans Children Know Who They Are”, The Atlantic. January 15, 2019.

Valerie Strauss. “CDC: Nearly 2 percent of high school students identify as transgender — and more than one-third of them attempt suicide,” The Washington Post. January 24 2019

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Danger, the Day After Tomorrow

Anti-abortion activists march near the Supreme Court building during the March for Life in Washington on Jan. 18. (Jose Luis Magana/AP)

Michael Gerson gets to the lurking problem for the Pro-Life movement and its embracing of and embrace by this President, what he terms “the Trumpification” of the movement. The danger happens when it wins, in the day after tomorrow.

But if the overturn or revision of Roe comes, it will almost certainly return greater flexibility to states regarding the regulation of abortion. This will kindle dozens of debates across the country and become a contest of persuasion and organization.

It is then that the Trumpification of the pro-life movement will exact a price. There is a serious cost when a movement that regards itself as pro-woman associates with misogyny. There is a serious cost when a movement that claims to be expanding the circle of social inclusion associates itself with nativism and racism. There is a serious cost when a movement that needs to be seen as charitable and reasonable associates itself with the politics of abuse and cruelty.

This turns out to be a particularly pure test of transactional, single-issue politics. Would you trade a major political gain for a large chunk of your moral reputation?

Gerson leaves untouched the present danger, that in this all-too partisan age, political antagonism reduces, evaporates the moral question. Principle is reduced to a kind of tactics, the means to win some political ground.

The only counter is to recognize that moral positions require moral lives, as well, seeing the other not as mere antagonist, but as one traveling the same road.

Michael Gerson, “The Trumpification of the pro-life movement exacts a price.” The Washinton Post. Jan. 21, 2019

Patient Zero

Ron Charles at the Washington Post has a reconsideration of Salinger, and explores the distance we as a society have come. The old notion of WASP prep school boy as representative of a type has left the room. We fill it with something else. But Salinger and Holden have left their mark.

Holden is Patient Zero for generations infected by his misanthropy. We live in a world overpopulated by privileged white guys who mistake their depression for existential wisdom, their narcissism for superior vision.

We have met the phonies and they are us

Ron Charles, “J.D. Salinger at 100: Is ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ still relevant?” The Washington Post, Dec. 30, 2018.

A word from the plantation.

To be fair, you can’t fault Trump apologist and Fox commentator Laura Ingraham for taking at offense at LeBron James’ words, that the current president  “doesn’t give a f*** for the people.” Still, Ingraham does stick her foot in:

“Must they run their mouths like that? Unfortunately, a lot of kids — and some adults — take these ignorant comments seriously,” Ingraham said Thursday night on her show. “And it’s always unwise to seek political advice from someone who gets paid a hundred million dollars a year to bounce a ball.”

“Oh, and LeBron and Kevin: You’re great players, but no one voted for you … So keep the political commentary to yourself or, as someone once said, shut up and dribble.”

It seems that in the democracy of the market and the hierarchy that is sports, star athletes do get a platform. Dollars are a kind of vote, and anyone who lived through high school knows that the jocks got status.

Eugene Scott provides more commentary at The Washington Post

 

Mercy Frozen Out

I want to believe we are better than this.

“So wait, y’all just going to leave this lady out here with no clothes on?” said Imamu Baraka, referring to a dazed woman wearing only a thin hospital gown and socks whom they had left alone at a bus stop Tuesday night in mid-30s temperatures. Her face appeared bloody, her eyes empty.

The entire, sad story is here.

He saw a dazed woman put out in the cold by a Baltimore hospital. He started filming.

 

A Democratic raid on the country club?

Neil Carlson on Facebook points to a Jennifer Rubin column on the possibility that so-called County-Club Republicans may be in play. Carlson goes for the heart of Rubin’s column,

“These voters want a good education system, college tuition that does not break the bank, investment in R&D, a dynamic economy (which requires trade, immigration and U.S. leadership in the world), fiscal sanity and a spirit of sensible compromise. They want the U.S. to be respected in the world and not to bask in the approval of tyrants. They don’t want the government doing everything, but they know we aren’t going back to the pre-New Deal era. They support a safety net but want programs to “work” (meaning, result in fewer impoverished people). These are people who navigate in their daily lives by persuasion and compromise, not bullying and insults. They want, in short, some semblance of civil and effective government and international leadership grounded in American values.”

He then adds a point about pro-life that should not be missed by Democrats.

Got me about pegged; add something about respect for faith and respect for life without rigid dogmatism about how policy must reflect such respect, and you’re very close.

Pro-life and concerned with building the common good: I do miss those folk, but I wonder. As a Dem, I’m not sure I want this group, but not for the political reasons one might imagine. Our nation and neighborhoods get far better when two sides can dialogue and even disagree. A discourse expands the potential set of ideas, defeats groupthink, and builds a broad consensus — a real patriotism.

In the meantime, the dangers of a small nation leadership (Make America Great, indeed!), are such that yes, Dems should pursue this group. Regarding Carlson’s point about pro-life, one of the real tragedies has been the shrinking of the pro-life base so that it becomes an ideological property than a matter of common approach. There is a world of good that could be done. In the meantime, as a Dem, welcome.

The Purple Republic

Monkey Cage explores the post-industrial landscape of the Heartland. Not surprising to those who live here, the political story is mixed (and for the cities, more Democratic).

Clinton lost crucial Midwestern swing states in large part because of a significant collapse of Democratic support outside of major city centers.

Author Jonathan Rodden goes on to conclude

One of the clearest lessons from 2016 is that the Democrats cannot win the crucial swing states just by running up the score in the biggest cities. They will need to reinvest in understanding the heterogeneous areas beyond the city limits.

‘Red’ America is an illusion. Postindustrial towns go for Democrats.