Ron DeSantis vs. the Republican Transgender Surrender Caucus

The Democrats’ radical Supreme Court nominee has made it clear that she doesn’t know what a woman is. As recent developments regrettably have shown, neither do several Republican governors.

Last week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis sent out his most popular tweet of the year—one that received a staggering 130,000 likes within 24 hours—in which he blasted the NCAA decision to let biological male William “Lia” Thomas compete in and win an NCAA championship in the 500-yard freestyle competition against, among others, Floridian runner-up and Olympic individual silver medalist Emma Weyant.

That same day, however, the Republican governors of Indiana and Utah announced they had joined the GOP’s transgender surrender caucus. 

The informal caucus, started by the GOP governors in North and South Dakota last year, exists to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by vetoing bills that would have kept transgender competitors out of girls’ high school sports. (Though South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, stung by the conservative backlash, temporarily suspended her membership in this group by banning transgender competitors through a weaker executive order.) 

Unfortunately, as the unpopularity and dangerousness of the Democrats’ radical gender ideology keep making themselves manifest, the GOP’s transgender surrender caucus inexplicably keeps growing. 

Barring transgender “females” from participating in girls’ and women’s sports should be an easy call for any politician even vaguely claiming the conservative mantle. It’s the equivalent of a layup or a wide-open touchdown catch. And the overwhelming response to DeSantis’ tweet shows that this is not just a “base” issue, but one that animates independents and even many Democrats. And yet, inexplicably, the GOP seems insistent upon, well, being the GOP. 

Notably, DeSantis did not mince words in his tweet, using nonsensical language about allowing Thomas to “live her truth” to mollify the radical transgender activists. He instead spoke the truth. Thomas is not a biological woman and has no business competing against biological women in a sex-categorized sporting event. End of story. 

DeSantis’ tweet was pure intellectual clarity. “By allowing men to compete in women’s sports, the NCAA is destroying opportunities for women, making a mockery of its championships, and perpetuating a fraud.” 

Yet in the same week DeSantis was heroically standing up for sanity, other GOP governors were throwing girls under the bus to appease the transgender lobby and—more significantly—their woke corporate allies.

Utah Governor Spencer Cox gives a superficial defense of his veto by speaking of compassion, but as Jordan Peterson has noted “most people who are cowards disguise their cowardice as morality.” Cox’s seven-page cri de coeur veto memo is basically a fig leaf not just for cowardice but for intellectual and moral incoherence.

Cox makes reference to a supposed compromise between legislators and “LGBTQ advocates” he would have preferred that would have allowed for some transgender participation while allegedly preventing elite transgender athletes from competing. Predictably, of course, the compromise failed. 

Abigail Shirer, author of Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters, tweeted in response to a recent transgender outrage:Gender ideologues are inflexible, utterly committed radicals. They can’t be shamed or appealed to. They can only be opposed and defeated.”

Cox’s statement is full of sympathy for transgender boys and girls but not for actual biological girls. He is quick to highlight the tragically high levels of mental illness, emotional difficulties, and suicide attempts among transgender youth. But like most liberals, Cox ignores evidence that transitioning does not help prevent this, and he does not consider that, as was standard practice until recently, therapy could be best devoted to getting them to accept the reality of their biological sex. 

Gender dysphoria has always existed. Feminine men and masculine women exist and have always existed. Male “women” do not. More to the point, even if one chooses to accept the transgender identification of these children, such acceptance does not and cannot eliminate the biological reality of the advantages that male bodies have over female bodies in athletic competition. 

And of course, lurking behind this rhetoric of compassion is the real motivation of Cox and other Republicans like him: fear of the “business lobby” taking away jobs from Utah for their refusal to uphold the abuse of Utah’s children. 

“I think the governor and a lot of other Republican legislators, they don’t want to get attention from the national news media on some culture-war issue,” a Utah State professor observed. 

Cox accuses his opponents of “fear and anger” directed at the transgender community, but our anger is directed not at the kids, who are unquestionably victims, but at the medical establishment, the education and health bureaucracies, and in some tragic cases, the parents, who have enabled rather than combatted the cause of their children’s suffering.

According to the latest Gallup poll, 2.1 percent of Gen Z identifies as transgender. This is up from essentially zero in the Baby Boomer and earlier generations and more than triple that number found even among Generation X. By enabling and even celebrating, rather than compassionately combatting, gender dysphoria, we are consigning tens of thousands of kids each year to a system that validates their dysphoria as it medicates and often mutilates them. 

It is precisely because conservatives are deeply compassionate for these kids and terrified for their futures that we are so alienated by attempts to normalize their affliction. And this is also why we should be outraged by the complicity of so many GOP elected officials in ratifying a mental and ethical framework that perpetuates their abuse.

Other Republican governors couldn’t even jump over Cox’s low bar of plausible deniability. The day before Cox’s veto, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb vetoed a similar bill, citing (as did Cox) the threat of lawsuits while simultaneously suggesting it did not address an actual problem. Holcomb got it backward. It’s because the radical gender ideology behind transgender participation in women’s sports is a profound problem that Holcomb wishes to avoid engaging with it. 

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum couldn’t even do as well as Holcomb when he vetoed a girls’ sports bill last year. “North Dakota today has a level playing field and fairness in girls’ sports,” Burgum said (incorrectly, as North Dakota allows transgender girls to compete after just a year of hormone therapy.)

Most Americans would more likely agree with North Dakota State Representative David Clemens, who said, “For us to begin to even consider things like this, to me, is beyond comprehension. . . . What we are becoming is God ourselves, and now we are going to create who we feel is male and female.” But that sort of statement is strictly beyond the boundaries of acceptable discourse, even though it has been the norm in Western culture for millennia.

We must not give a single inch to our opponents, who are at war with reality and biology. We must defeat the radical transgender ideology at its root and remove any Republican politicians who enable it. 

This doesn’t mean that we don’t have compassion for the increasing numbers of youths trapped in today’s transgender madness, enabled by our deranged ruling class.

But we have compassion for our daughters, too. 

Those of us who oppose radical transgender ideology, epitomized so perfectly at the NCAA swimming championships, haven’t abdicated our hearts and consciences, we just haven’t removed our brains.

About Jeremy Carl

Jeremy Carl is a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute. He served as deputy assistant secretary of the interior under President Trump and lives with his family in Montana. You can follow him on Twitter at @jeremycarl4.

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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