Misgenders and Misnomers

by G. Murphy Donovan (January 2023)

Otto Dix, 1927

Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. —Orwell


(Letter to a niece, a former Elizabeth Warren campaign staffer, who is living with a young man who is about to transition from a he to a she. My niece was triggered by my September piece on the same subject.)


Dear ______,

Your Aunt just gave me an update on your partner, so I thought I would drop you a note in light of our recent email conversation about “transitions,” sexual and cultural. I didn’t know at the time how close to home I had hit with my September article. So if my take on transition made you uncomfortable, my apologies retrospectively.

At the same time, let’s not confuse disagreement with being disingenuous.

For starters, we accept you and whoever you choose to be with without judgment or condition. You are both adults. Free will is pretty much an absolute. You either believe in it or you don’t. Make your own choices with our best wishes, but not without a few words of caution from a chap who has been navigating cultural minefields for eight decades now.

I watched, and tried to comprehend those pod casts you provided from those sex transition advocates, none of which, so far as I can tell, have biology, medical, or psychiatric backgrounds. Indeed, much of their arguments are some variety of denial; literally “strangio”; dismissive, condescending, political, or adolescent. Gaslighting, victimology, and projection are favorite memes with Internet zealots and trolls these days.

To wit, “if you don’t agree with me, you must be the bigot.” So beyond projection, let’s be clear on a few basics.

I believe in sex; procreative, biological, and recreational; accepted attributes of most fish, fowl, and mammals. I don’t believe that genitals are “social constructions.” Call me a dinosaur, but I also believe that gender is indeed a construction, grammatical at best. To confuse it with biological sex is a rhetorically arrogant if not delusional notion. Are we to change all gender appendages on all human language in the name of “woke?” Frenchmen and Russians are sure to be amused. Global usage and acceptable grammar are probably immune from contrived American sex and gender political extremism in any case.

In the interest of truth, clarity, if not genuine identity, we need to keep our binary pronouns—and our genitals.

I recently heard of a new male-to-female transition who threatened to carry a spray bottle to use on his partner every time she “misgendered” him, suggesting that folks who don’t play along need to be treated like house cats. To be a compatibly woke today, apparently at least one party must be exploitive and the other submissive. If the shoe fits …

Alas, “misgender” is at best a misnomer. The purpose of language is clarity, lucid communication. Most so called “gender” socio-psychobabble fails that test. Woke is usually the antithesis of common sense or maturity.

I also believe that a person of average intelligence can define a woman or a man without being a biologist. Such clarity is impossible, of course, if you marinate in cultural politics on the left. If a Supreme Court justice can’t define woman, how can she possibly rule on or defend “woman’s” rights?

Think about it, even logic is a bitch.

Nevertheless, I also believe in sexual dysphoria, those rare cases where a few men or women are uncomfortable, reject, or even loath their natal sex or even their obvious primary sex characteristics like breasts or penises. Many folks are uncomfortable in their own skin for a host of reasons beyond biology. Fear and self-loathing are heavy loads. Psychiatrists have been wrestling/treating/dealing with such clinical dysphoria for eons. The fact that the American medical establishment may have jumped on the juvenile gender bender band wagon just tells us that even science is a political football today.

“Do no harm” seems to be a lame medical cliché today. In the end; facts, Mother Nature, real science, and ethical practice will all have their say.

Further, I don’t believe that biology or science or language can be redefined by the self-anointed on TikTok or YouTube; amateur shills and “influencers” like those, mostly odd fellows, featured in those pod casts you forwarded. Internet trolls contradict themselves so often that you can’t possibly take their arguments seriously. I also find it difficult to believe any of these groomers ever stayed in class long enough to sit through a logic, rhetoric, science, or composition class. Gratuitous assertions and name calling are not arguments. I cited female professional experts in my September article to avoid any hint of bias, trolling, or gaslighting.

Dr. Debra Soh, neurologist, in particular is crystal clear on facts associated with the transition phenomenon.

I also included J.K. Rowling in my piece for her courage and artistic integrity on the dangers of grooming children with pernicious fantasies about sexual reality. She is a world-class expert on fantasy, the space between fact and fiction. She appreciates, like few others, the suicidal peril of encouraging children to be what they can never be.

A woman will surely be president one day. But she will not become a Wampanoag, nor grow a penis in the primaries.

Most women who write on this subject anguish about dysphoric suicide and rightly so. What mother wants to lose a child to identity politics? When adults encourage or aggravate the ordinary anxieties of child maturation, we shouldn’t be surprised when confusion produces tragic adolescent consequences. The Gender Reveal website is just another symptom of the “contagion” or the groomer meme.

Death is the obvious alternative to identity angst, anxiety, and pain. If blame is to be placed for dysphoric, now dysphonic, suicide; place it squarely with amateur reckless trolls, advocates, and influencers, not sober professionals, transition skeptics or concerned parents. If you audit media coverage of celebrity or adolescent suicide today, you should recognize that suicide has been romanticized to a fault.

For media shills; “if it bleeds, it leads.”

Dying young is thought to be heroic. In death, disturbed or neurotic naïfs believe they will achieve a kind of notoriety or attention they can never have in life. Suicide is the coward’s way, the easy way out. Life is hard, suicide is escape. So-called transition suicides are not much different than any other varieties of nihilism.

Neurosis and anxiety need professional help not fake genitals or bogus pronouns. Not a moment too soon, more than a little pushback seems to be on the horizon even at the academy.

You seem to believe that the straight majority does not understand the special world of fragile people, so-called “snowflakes.” Surely there is some truth here. Alas, the rejection of male and female categories opens the door for what we now see is an inexhaustible litany of self-defined pronouns, gender warp, sexual license or even abuse. Those of us who might not accept cultural adolescence are given new adjectives too; monikers like boomer, privileged, bigot, SIS, or “breeder.”

Common sense isn’t privilege; it’s a milestone of maturity.

We all need to understand where we belong long before we claim to be something “special.” Unique has never been a synonym for freak. The truth about all lives is that they are often a vale of tears. We all need to deal with life and our biology as they are, not as we desire them to be. I once knew a chap in Amarillo who wanted to be a Palomino. He never became a horse, but eventually he did become a consensus jackass. Non-binary could well be a euphemism for AC/DC confused. I will admit that non-binary probably doubles your chances of getting lucky, just as it trebles your chance of becoming the town pump—or an STD franchise.

At some point reality steps in on the side of sanity and legislates both definition and acceptable behavior. That is happening now across the land in many states and maybe at the federal level at some point. According to Strangio:

Chase (nee Kate) Strangio, Deputy Director for Transgender Justice with the ACLU

“I’ve been focused on lobbying on anti-trans bills for six years and this has already proven to be the worst session we’ve seen in terms of volume and content of bills.”

Indeed, getting hoisted on your own petard is excruciating. If you are woke, be careful what you wish for. Unfortunately, Strangio confuses “anti-trans” with child welfare. A majority of parents, and a few politicians, do not want their children to be groomed, prematurely sexualized, abused, drugged, or altered by internet proselytizers, public school teachers, “guidance” counselors, or even politicized and/or greedy physicians.

The primary educators of all children are, or should be, sensible parents—not the state, social warriors or pod cast poseurs. Most sexual dysphoria vanishes after puberty or adolescence.

Dr. Jordan Petersen is correct when he says the administration of puberty blockers, sex hormones, or surgery to minors is criminal. And contrary to what you appear to believe, the changes produced by puberty blockers and hormone “treatments” are not reversible according to the recently enlightened National Health Service in Britain. Frankly, I’m loath to cite the NHS on science. Like the American NIH, facts on subjects like transition and COVID seem to be moving targets. The threat from plague or pedophilia pales compared to the morbidity potential of politicized science and medicine.

In any case, you need to occasionally consult some authority besides your cell phone or your politics.

There are some lines that need to be clear. I’m sure you know the difference between a transvestite and a transsexual. Transvestites are an ancient comic cliché, often gay men aping women with clownish makeup and garish dress. Frankly, most transvestites are, at the same time, homely overweight men, made up to look like female clowns. Historically, transvestites are zaftig, sexually politicized dudes with no interest in losing their giblets. Alas, your comrades on the left like to defend drag shows as harmless entertainment.

As adult entertainment, who cares?

Unfortunately, the drag crowd has now migrated into kindergartens, public schools and libraries where the buffoonery has all the earmarks of anti-feminist bigotry; woman hate and pedophilia dressed as circus clowns. If there is a radical anti-feminist LGB(T), it thrives in the drag crowd. Drag shows are a kind of anti-mom, anti-girl, anti-straight kiddy porn. Drag queens today are no different than the urban/liberal anti-Semitic or black-face crowd; soft, socially acceptable, contempt disguised as entertainment, or worse still, cultural progress.

If you want a thorough history and analysis of the drag meme, you might consult “The Real Story Behind Drag Queen Story Hour” which appeared in your very own City Journal in August, 2022; a must read if you really care about good journalism and the political history of radical sex.

Indeed, sexist hate messaging is augmented by liberal, some say Marxist, urban, partisan politics. It’s no accident that the vast majority of activist transvestites are actually angry, bizarre, overweight, neurotic, liberal men. There’s nothing funny or amusing about sexualizing kids prematurely with fat masques in pursuit of radical, racist or sexual identity.

According to Foucault, the last sex frontier is children. He was right.

We are there, girl.

Transsexuals are a different kettle of fish. Here we have men and women who are both extremist, anti-science, and semi-suicidal. They actually believe that chemicals or a knife will alter their reality and their sex. What rational adult believes in voluntary castration? Like crack or fentanyl, self-mutilation is a death wish in slow motion. For my money, the need here isn’t better surgery, its better education and psychiatry. By abandoning best practice here, the medical profession has done irreparable damage to real children, real adults, real science—and the English language.

Surgically altering appearances does not alter reality or biology; not for kids nor for vain adults. People who are not comfortable in their own skin are predictably neurotic at best – or suicidal at worst. We don’t need superfluous drugs and surgery so much as we need better analysis, research, and treatments. Cosmetic, or recreational, surgery for adult women is the ugly precedent that opened the door for the surgical/medical abuse of children and confused adolescents; first in the name of vanity and now for “identity.”

I actually know a woman, and an anguished husband, from Towson who bought their 13 year old daughter a new nose. Apparently the child’s beak was just too big a burden for two snowflakes, mother and child, to bear.

Vain superficial women are created not born. My Dad was an alcoholic, what we used to call a drunk. He was a product of bad choices, not heredity, genes or illness, although, I will admit that whisky and the Irish often seem to be related by birth. Nevertheless, why is it that liberal women only believe in “choice” when the subject is cosmetic surgery or abortion? If the subject is drugs, alcohol, child abuse or any anti-social behavior; free will and choice seem to be orphans.

Responsible adult behavior is a constant, not a variable.

To their credit, adult gay men and women are starting to recognize the transition extremism in their community for what it is. Alas, as in the straight world, the noisy woke fanatics still get all the ink and all the attention. Transition may be cool today, but in the long haul, it may be a dead end not a new beginning. Like many of your peers, you might want to spend more time in the real world and less time on the Internet.

If not, let me make a recommendation. PBS (surely your end of the political spectrum) recently released a documentary series called Hacking Your Mind which documents the pernicious influence of peer communities and contagion on the Internet. If these folks are correct in their analysis of Internet social contagion, then community influencers today are actually more relevant than fact, logic, history, or science. Thus we now have the well-documented, if not unfortunate, “transition regret” phenomenon; where chemical or surgical castrati live to regret their naïveté and their folly—with a lifetime of expensive drugs and medical complications.

Think of the potential for buyer’s remorse here; manipulation, juvenilia, arrested development, all of which have nothing with sexual identity. Most detransitions ultimately realize that they are just gay. If you are living with a he-to-be-she, have either of you considered that you both might just be gay?

You asked me “why I care about what other folks have in their pants.” Frankly, I don’t give a damn, but at your age, you should care. Either real sexual identity matters or it doesn’t. You can’t have it both ways. If it doesn’t, then changing names and pronouns is just cosmetic, exclusionary bullshit, really. If it doesn’t matter; why scold, judge, or demonize those of us who are skeptical about the charade parade?

The vast majority of youngsters who have issues about their natal sex get over it. That’s another inconvenient fact.

Altering a child’s hormones or genitals in the name of social identity is now just another one of life’s cruelest cuts. Posturing or dressing like the opposite sex is one thing. Self-mutilation, with chemicals or a knife is, in practice, a kind of self-hate. If the price of identity is self-mutilation or death, we might want to pause those narratives, not put them on magazine covers.

Learning to live with what and who you are is just another milestone on the road to maturity. Snowflakes and perpetual adolescence may be trending on the Internet, but out here in the real world, reality still bites like a mad dog.

As a former Warrenette, maybe you can’t see the underlying nihilism in castration politics; misogynist, anti-procreation, anti-family, often homophobic; and taken to its logical conclusion, anti-social. No “breeders,” no human race. That’s another biological fact. If we can assume for a moment that heterosexual families are the building blocks of society; without those keystones there might be no villages, no states, and no countries—indeed, no LGBT. At the end of the castratos’ daisy chain, we might find a global, Utopian village; but one that would have to look like Davos, Beijing, or The Animal Farm.

There’s also more than a little irony in transition schooling. You can be affirmed to be what you are not, and at the same time, become another fake social victim, snowflake in fact and deed; another noisy, hypersensitive, monetized, political tool. Becoming a “tool” is not much of a career goal.

When you lie to someone else you only forfeit trust. When you lie to yourself, you forfeit any semblance of common sense. The real hazard in identity Marxism, racial or sexual, is that, by the numbers, you will exclude more folks, straight and gay, than you can ever hope to include.

Good luck and Happy New Year.

All the best in 2023,


Table of Contents


G. Murphy Donovan usually writes about the politics of national security.

Follow NER on Twitter @NERIconoclast


4 Responses

  1. “[…] I also believe that gender is indeed a construction, grammatical at best. To confuse it with biological sex is a rhetorically arrogant if not delusional notion.”

    The source of this rhetorically arrogant notion is Judith Butler, who published her books “Gender Trouble” in 1990; “Bodies That Matter: On The Discursive Limits Of Sex” in 1993; & “Undoing Gender” in 2004. It took a generation for her postmodernist twaddle to gain currency & become dogma — but she did succeed phenomenally.

    1. Rather than gender, as used by the transitionee, being a grammatical construction at best, it is primarily a logical error in categorization. Bertrand Russell’s village barber also had an analogous hair cutting category quandary. In our case, the transitionee at first defines the ‘procedure’ as an anatomical/ hormonal corrective for their psychological dis-ease, uncomfortable mind/body sense of self. I speak here of adults older than ca. 25 years wherein brain structure and neurochemical functioning is complete except for changes due to adult ideation.
      Delusions and misinterpretations of somatic ‘feelings’ call for an unusual class or category of therapeutic approaches which have not yet been developed adequately— or to the transitionee’s satisfaction.
      Go tell a zebra that it’s not a horse.

  2. Indeed. The idea that there is gender as distinct from sex is the primary and essential ‘social construction’ of this genre. In the sense that it is not a thing in nature.
    That there are socially constructed specific genders of male and female is itself a secondary social construction. After that, only, comes the social construction of male and female as ‘genders’ themselves, and after that the social construction of the idea that there are more than two, many, or a spectrum without distinct categories.
    The only things that are not social constructions are the two biological sexes and the fact that sometimes genetics goes cattywampus and produces various intersex types. In extremely rare cases.
    Once we have got through that, and progressives have realized that their body of thought consists entirely of social constructs built on a foundational social construct, then we can talk. Lots of things are social constructs. Doesn’t make them ‘unreal’ for certain, sub-natural planes of reality. We can argue about which of them most correspond to either reality or justice, and then without their insistent moral imperative that natural reality is fake and their social construct is real and we must think and speak as such.
    Take Ellen Page who became Elliot Page. Were I to think myself quite liberal and even progressive on this point, I might entirely endorse her choice to become him and the idea that some deep psychological imperative and personal self-understanding compelled her to this transition, and that I should accept it. Presuming my acceptance is even required, which I don’t quite understand as a function of individual freedom. My acceptance affects him in no way.
    But none of that would be good enough. I must now pretend that he was always he and never she even when he was she, that Elliot Page always existed and Ellen Page never did. In effect, it is not merely a challenge to ideas of gender or sex, it is a challenge to linear time and historical record. A denial that any transformation even took place. That suggests greater lunacy, and greater insistence on control of others rather than personal rights, than any other aspect of the issue.

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