Academics or Activists?--The Transgenderization of Education Research Part 2

In Part 1 of this series on the special issue of the journal, Educational Researcher entitled, Trans Studies in K–12 Education we worked our way methodically through the rationale given by the editors of the issue in their introduction to it.

In Part 2 of our series, we will examine the first of the four feature articles in the special issue. That article is entitled, Methodology as Pedagogy: Trans Lives, Social Science, and the Possibilities of Education Research. Like the introduction to the issue that we looked at in Part 1, this article veers off from scholarship into pro-transgenderist advocacy. The author shows that almost immediately when he says:

there is great potential for education researchers to play a useful role in cultivating trans-competent educational environments

And what is meant by “trans-competent educational environments?” Basically, it boils down to creating an atmosphere in which teachers are pressured to “affirm” the confused ideas that some children posses about their own genders. This is not healthy for teachers or children.

The author seems to grasp that genuine social scientists are wary of the agenda of transgenderists who want to legitimize their campaign to sexualize K-12 classrooms by enveloping their aims with a veneer of solid scholarship:

the article presents a consideration of the role of education research in bridging tensions between the fields of social science and transgender studies

Gosh, why would be there any tensions between those who want to adhere to scholarly standards and those who want to make every K-12 classroom in the land, “trans-competent?”

Referring to the long overdue backlash we have seen in 2022 to the aggressiveness of the transgenderist movement in K-12 education, the author writes:

…anti-LGBTQ bills were introduced to U.S. state legislatures. Most of them target transgender people, particularly trans youth in schools.

As noted in Part 1 of this series, the transgenderist movement is addicted to the use of the words “target” and “targeted” as if legislators, many of whom have children of their own, are out to persecute young people rather than protect them from school personnel who, say, actively encourage children in dysfunctional behaviors such as cross-dressing at school and colluding with a troubled child in concealing such disturbing behavior from the child’s parents. Targeting? Hardly.

The writer continues:

Many of these bills and policies have sought to ban or even criminalize trans youth’s participation in recreational school sports or their access to trans-affirming health care.

There is a lot to unpack in that single sentence alone (and this is a fairly long article, so bear with me).

On this, “ban or even criminalize trans youth’s participation in recreational school sports”—the aim of these bills and policies is often to protect the rights of actual young girls (as opposed to troubled biological boys who are convinced that they are girls) to participate freely in a fair fashion against other girls and not be forced to compete against boys who claim they are girls.

Much of the media coverage of these controversies is misleading because it refers to boys (who are classified by the transgenderists as “trans girls”) as simply, “girls” which they are not, thereby making the parents and legislators who are trying to preserve the hard-won gains in female sports of the last 75 years or so seem like bigots and ogres, when in fact that they are simply caring dads and, in many cases, feminists (some of whom are lesbians). So, so much for the “ban or even criminalize trans youth’s participation in recreational school sports” canard. Boys can play with the other boys.

On this, “or their access to trans-affirming health care”--presumably, that includes such things as puberty blockers, hormone therapy, and surgical intervention.

Let’s take a look at that last item (the horrors of puberty blockers and hormone therapy for healthy children speak for themselves).

Here is what the Cleveland Clinic (hardly a stridently right-wing organization) says about this vis-à-vis females:

If you are a transgender man (assigned female at birth or AFAB), you may have surgeries that involve:

Breast reduction or mastectomy.

Removal of the ovaries and uterus (oophorectomy and hysterectomy).

Construction of a penis and scrotum (metoidioplasty, phalloplasty and scrotoplasty).

And vis-à-vis males:

If you are a transgender woman (assigned male at birth or AMAB), other surgeries may include:

Adam’s apple reduction.

Placement of breast implants (breast augmentation).

Removal of the penis and scrotum (penectomy and orchiectomy).

Construction of a vagina and labia (feminizing genitoplasty).

Is it any wonder that parents are appalled that this sort of manufactured freakishness is being pushed on their children without the parents’ knowledge?

The author goes on to say, apparently with horror, this of other pieces of legislation designed to put a stop to some of the excesses of the transgenderist juggernaut in K-12 schools:

Others restrict discussions of gender and sexual orientation with young children in public schools, like Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law passed in March 2022, which states that “Classroom instruction … on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards”

To this so-called scholar one might say, “You got a problem with not discussing gender identity with kindergarteners, buddy?” And remember, this article appears in an academic journal published under the auspices of the supposedly reputable American Educational Research Association.

The writer uses a term that transgenderists employ with great frequency “assignment,” as in:

Sex assignment is a mandated item on birth certificates, which register citizenship, provide access to public services, and form the basis for legal identification for the rest of a person’s life.

as if it is somewhat abnormal for delivery room staff to note that a child is a boy or a girl or for governments to deal in reality and not the fantasies of other people about gender matters.

It is worth noting that the writer admits that the unnatural and, again, manufactured “identities” of the trans community are burdensome:

Trans life is commonly characterized by the constant burden of explanation: exhausting interactions with clinicians in order to access competent medical care, navigating complex and bureaucratic legal systems, and describing the basic conditions of transness to family, friends, colleagues, and—yes—researchers.

and yet condemns those such as Governor Greg Abbot of Texas who are trying to prevent yet more children from being subjected to pro-transgenderist, under-researched medical practices:

in Texas, Governor Greg Abbott directed the state Department of Family and Protective Services to launch child abuse investigations into parents and guardians that support trans-affirming health care for their children

And maybe a “gender” that has to be explained repeatedly and is dependent on drugs to maintain is not a gender at all.

One thing and the author and I do agree on is his statement:

Research methodology functions as a kind of pedagogy. That is, the way that scholars study a topic shapes how people understand it.

All the more reason to be alarmed by his article and the others of this special issue of Educational Researcher. The aim of the special issue is to lay the groundwork for the normalization of transgenderist-centered subject matter and practices in K-12 settings and that is not good for children.

The author rightly says:

Although education scholars may not view their methods as pedagogical in and of themselves, it is undeniable that research has played a key role in contributing to the ways that gender is (mis)understood. The decisions that researchers make about what kinds of questions to ask and data to collect, the theories that guide their analysis, and the presentation of data all contribute to knowledge production within the academy and among the public, including even how research participants may come to understand themselves

Again, all the more reason for parents to be aware that what is often termed “research” is often little more than political agenda setting—in this case, pro-transgenderism agenda setting. And the idea that pro-transgendersist researchers may influence how, "research participants may come to understand themselves" is outright scary, particularly in the case of children.

It is common for transgenderist advocates to argue that those of us who refuse to buy into their ever-increasing number of invented gender “identities” and who stick to biology (to wit, male and female) are simply not sophisticated enough to grasp the transgenderists’ supposedly much more nuanced view of humanity and that only transgenderists should be allowed any voice in matters concerning public education:

Qualitative methodologies frequently treat gender as a simple matter of visual observation by a researcher rather than as a multifaceted sociocultural construct. When researchers oversimplify gender in favor of shorthand or efficient analysis, their methodological choices serve to teach the public a reductive understanding of a highly complex phenomenon. While this may serve the immediate goals of a researcher, it risks sacrificing rigorous scholarship and public education.

One of the most astonishing aspects of this article is its tired, dated, lazy assumption that it is only evil, wealthy white people who are not wild about children being indoctrinated by transgenderist ideologues. Such ideologues condescendingly assume that people of color do not have very strong beliefs about male and female roles. It does not seem to occur to transgenderists that people of color may not want any part in the great transgenderist project of making K-12 education just another platform for its ideas:

it is crucial that education researchers seeking to study gender are aware that (1) Eurocentric ideas about gender have been made justifiable through academic research and scholarship, (2) that these ideas have pathologized transgender existence, and (3) that while the gendered structures of white supremacy have been imposed upon virtually all people in colonial societies, the design of these structures has historically served to facilitate the reproduction of a White and wealthy ruling class

This dumping of people of color into a vast, undifferentiated, exploited lump totally lacking in agency and devoid of any ideas of their own that might not be pro-transgenderist is about as racist as can be and makes a mockery of the author’s pretensions to scholarship worthy of the name.

Note the writer’s all-encompassing condemnation of “Eurocentric” gender norms here:

school and other public institutions have historically often served as an explicit means to socialize children into Eurocentric gender norms. In addition to the harmful origins and continued impacts of the pedagogy of pathologization embedded within the dominant structures of gender, the common acceptance of these systems without interrogation in schools and education research forecloses meaningful public engagement with the full complexity of gender

Yeah, I don’t suppose that there are some fairly rigid gender norms in, oh let’s say, Japan, China, both Koreas, Taiwan, most of the Arab world, South Asia, Southeast Asia, much of Africa, Latin America and so on. It is only those all those Eurocentric white people who are so mean to transgender people.

The author employs the usual leftist tropes:

More recently, trans studies has returned to questions related to the conditions of poverty, colonialism, and global capitalism that were at the heart of some early trans social movements

ignoring the fact that his supposedly uniformly oppressed “people of color” were often never victims of colonialism (Turkey, Thailand) or were colonial overlords (Japan in Korea and Taiwan and vast parts of China and Japan tried to take over much of Southeast Asia; Turkey during the Ottoman period in sizable swaths of Eastern Europe, much of the Middle East and North Africa and so on; and China oppresses Tibet and Muslims in Xinjiang). And some of the biggest colonies were majority white as in Canada, Australia and New Zealand and for some years, us. But what does history matter when transgenderist advocacy is underway?

And like people of color aren’t really good at global capitalism? Hmm, I wonder what East Asia would say about that.

And then there is the little matter of the fact that many American and European global corporations are at this point pro-transgenderist and imposing their woke ideology on smaller, weaker, traditional societies—many of which are inhabited by, you know, people of color. There is a lot of woke cultural imperialism going on from Eurocentric folks.

And there is the odd assumption that poverty is somehow connected to transgenderism, which actually seems to be plaguing rich countries like the U.S and the United Kingdom and affluent white liberals the most.

In any case, what colonialism and global capitalism have to do with your little girl in kindergarten are beyond me. The point is, she should not be subjected to transgenderist propaganda.

The author makes grand claims for what a greater presence of transgenderist-flavored pedagogy could accomplish, such as:

generate new knowledge to expand public understandings of gender toward the cultivation of less violent societies

Less violent societies. You know, the kind where breasts and penises are sliced off.

After devoting a good deal of space in his article to condemning oppressive white people hell bent on crushing the spirits of non-white, non-heterosexuals, the writer adopts an ameliorative note:

The practice of education is a fundamentally relational one. Whether explicit or not, people learn a great deal about what it means to exist together in shared space through education within and beyond schools. In a society where gender is among the most central mechanisms of social categorization within and beyond schools, what are education researchers doing to deepen knowledge about gender? Here, meaningful engagement with trans studies has much to offer our field as a whole.

But then goes back to bleating about victimhood and engaging in what leftists would call “cultural appropriation” by equating transgender status and race. He treats opposition to transgenderism and racism as basically the same rather than the two being quite distinct phenomena—and by the way, the first is understandable, the second deplorable:

It is far past time for education researchers to engage with gender in greater depth and complexity, foregrounding its relationship to other forms of subjection.

There is plenty of scholarship on gender matters. It is called feminism. But male transgenderists want to wipe women from the scholarly landscape unless they swear fealty to the mostly-male led (even if that leadership is convinced that it is female) transgenderist movement.

This article is useful primarily for illustrating how partisan the transgenderist argument propounded in the field of education research is. No wonder social scientists in other fields want nothing to do with it.

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