The fallacious and overpraised Ben Shapiro is a traditional conservative pundit known for his journalism and his company, The Daily Wire. He posits Judeo-Christian values and the 10 commandments as the founding ideology of Western society. Shapiro promotes family values, traditional gender roles, and celibacy before marriage. Something which Ben Shapiro claims is not influenced by his religiosity or conservatism is his stance on trans people. He claims only the facts of biology, genetics, and language determine his positions on this.
Being an arbiter of facts, evidence, and logic-based reasoning is a completely good thing to do. It is admirable in all forms of debate, discussion, and conversation. However, this only works when “Facts” are actually working in the realm of reality. When outdated studies, fallacious theories of language, and misunderstandings of psychology and biology, are what determine “facts” they are useless in the absolute. They aren’t even facts.
An Appeal to Biology
One of Shapiro’s primary arguments is that chromosomes determine the proper use of pronouns (he, she, them, they, etc.) rather than visual recognition or identification, as in secondary sex characteristics. In the infamous panel interview with trans reporter Zoey Tur, Ben Shapiro asserts that to refer to a trans woman as “she and her” would be a lie because “how he feels on the inside is irrelevant to the question of his genetics.” It is true that gender identity does not contribute to the question of genetics, but he misses the mark when he pretends that the question of genetics has anything important to do with pronouns.
Contrary to popular progressive belief, pronouns are not, in a realistic or practical way, used as a method of self-identification. Anyone, male or female, is only as much of a “he” or “she” as other people decide. It is an external descriptor of how a person interacts with the world and the world perceives them. This means that if the world sees a trans woman as a woman, they are going to refer to her as a “she” as that fact is a basic quality of language and visual input. It isn’t determined by chromosomes or any other molecular biology. It would be the same logic of writing “blonde” on the driver’s license of a naturally light-haired woman who always dyes her hair brown. Calling that woman a “blonde” would be an accurate depiction of reality. Indeed, the real lie is to refer to a trans person as anything other than his or her correct pronouns. Their pronouns are a reflection not only of how they interact with the world but how it perceives them as well.
Is Supporting Trans People Equivalent to Supporting Mental Illness?
Another thing Ben Shapiro argues is that supporting trans people is equal to endorsing a psychotic delusion. He says that because trans people are mentally ill (referring to gender dysphoria), it is better to place them in therapy rather than for them to undergo physical and social transition. This theory of a cure for gender dysphoria has some merit in science but is dismissed due to the great mental harms and lack of ineffectiveness. However, this is a direct misunderstanding of the real cause of gender dysphoria. Shapiro appears to have a very limited grasp on what exactly transsexualism is. He seems to believe it’s a bunch of confused men and women looking for an escape from real life. This is not how experienced medical professionals view transsexualism or gender dysphoria in any capacity.
Being trans, or transitioning on a social and physical level, isn’t a medical condition. This understanding trans people would be akin to calling Prozac a disorder, rather than a treatment for certain depressive disorders. It is actually the result of and the primary treatment for gender dysphoria. Now, trans people do all have the mental illness known as gender dysphoria. Gender dysphoria is the disconnect between a person’s body and a person’s brain, with particular reference to primary and secondary sex characteristics. What is seldom understood by most people is that gender dysphoria is the manifestation of a physical intersex condition.
What happens to a trans person in the womb, is they are exposed to an abnormal level of some hormone not matching their sex. This sets the brain of the child’s brain on track to develop in a way opposite their chromosomes, or any other sex characteristics. This, down the line of maturity, is what causes gender dysphoria and the desire to transition. A child’s explanation on Tumblr and a gender studies professor seem to have been the only things shaping Ben Shapiro’s understanding of transsexualism. He has claimed that the same people, at the same time, are saying that trans people are both “born into the wrong body” and that “gender is a social construct” but this is simply not the case.
Ben Shapiro posits that, because these ideas are contradictory, neither of them must be true. Although the whole “born in the wrong body” dance is a very elementary way of understanding trans people, it is correct in essence. He uses this technique of equivocation to dismiss the real issues relating to trans people. Gender is in fact not a social construct, it is a quality of the brain– a physical organ. Furthermore, the people who use the “born in the wrong body” narrative (or a version of it) are, most of the time, not the same people who claim that gender is a social construct.
Shapiro Lacks a Full Understanding of Biology
In a video published by Ben Shapiro, titled “Ben Shapiro DESTROYS Transgenderism And Pro-Abortion Arguments”, Shapiro argues that gender is biological but it is not in the mind. This is half true, but he forgets “the mind” is biology. The brain is part of the body and part of sexual characteristics. This is crucial to understand. Later in this video, Ben condescends to a naive college student, saying, “Why aren’t you 60?” The student replies, “They’re not the same thing.”
Ben Shapiro talks passed her correct although basic refutation as he continued to say, “You can’t magically change your gender. You can’t magically change your sex.” He continues saying that trans people believe themselves to be a member of the opposite sex. But trust, trans people are under no illusions as to what their sex is. Recognition as the gender they think and act as is the primary reason people transition. It is the only effective way to cure gender dysphoria today.
Addressing the point about why people cannot “identify” as 60 in the same way people can “identify” as a man or woman is simple. There is no such thing as “age dysphoria”. Excluding progeria (a condition which accelerates the aging process) or a severe mental delay, a person cannot have the brain of a person younger or older. There is no such thing as an “Inter-age disorder” in the same way there are intersex disorders.
Ben Shapiro, although a fine speaker and a modern icon of traditional conservatism, is wrong in a tragic way about trans people. Although his catchphrase, among others, is “Facts Don’t Care About Your Feelings” he seems to care very little about facts that go against his bland traditionalist narrative. He seems to care very little about real biological studies and very little about maintaining logical integrity. The world would expect a man with such reasonable positions on ethics in journalism would be able to apply the same grace onto such an important subject as gender identity and trans people.
It is, to be frank, a sad state of dishonest discourse and savage misunderstanding that Ben Shapiro is fostering. Blatant lies and faulty logic are no way to hold a conversation, it is no way to solve real issues the trans community is facing. A disproportionate amount of trans people are murdered, kill themselves, or are involved in sex work.
Maybe traditionalism can help some of these problems, but we would never know because Shapiro would rather talk about how he won’t call trans people their proper pronouns. He is not offering solutions, he is offering false hate-fodder. This is not to say that Ben Shapiro is a hateful person, but he is at least a highly misinformed person. He is spreading misinformation to his fanbase and knowingly avoiding sensible correction. This misinformation has disastrous consequences, regardless of intention.
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