The case of Stefonknee Wolscht, the Canadian man who has decided that he is not simply a woman trapped in a man’s body but actually a six year old girl trapped in the same, has attracted some web attention. At first, I thought the story was a hoax but, no, it would appear that the lunatics have taken over the asylum and it is indeed true. Even if a sick joke, however, it would still offer insights into the inner logic of the politics of identity as currently played by the Left. Thus, for example, the U.K.'s Pink News reports that parts of the trans community are upset. Not, of course, at the harm done to Wolscht's wife and children, those symbols of bourgeois oppression who are thus just so much collateral damage in the Glorious Revolution of the Self(ish). No. They are upset because his claim to be a different age “discredits their cause.”
A moment’s reflection would indicate that this condition, whereby a person is really a small child incarcerated within a much older adult body, is increasingly prevalent in today's society. Recent events on the campuses of some of America’s top (sic) universities (sic) clearly show that the transageist community is rapidly growing in size, influence and belligerence. Still, as with all vanguard movements, some opposition is to be expected. The concerned reaction of sections of the transgender community is therefore understandable.
Or is it?
If everything else which shapes our identity can now be determined by mere personal preference, why single out age as an exception? After all, the way we measure time is a human invention. For example, we arbitrarily build our calendar around the earth’s orbit of the sun. I have always thought that this is a somewhat imperialist imposition of heliocentrism on our lives. We also assume that time moves forward, one moment following another, but that too is really a linguistic construct. “Time” is a floating signifier, a patriarchal myth. To coin a term, the old-fashioned idea of linear chronology now represents a somewhat heterotemporal approach to existence, methinks.
So when it comes to transgender people mewling and puking about how Wolscht is trivializing their cause, let me put this as simply and gently as I can: When you decide that categories of identity are merely psychological and that reality is constituted by language, you consequently have neither the right nor the ability to call a halt to the Promethean process which you have unleashed just because some of the results prove to be distasteful to you and unhelpful to your political cause. Indeed, whining like a bunch of, ahem, six year old girls is not going to help you at this point.
You do not believe me? Then perhaps it is time to call the spirit of Nietzsche’s Madman once more from the grave: You who have so derided any notion of human nature and external authority, do you now have the courage to face the world for whose birth you yourselves were the midwives? You who have “unchained the sun from this earth,” can you now live with the consequences of your own actions—where all things, even chronological age, must surely give way before the will to power? Face the reality you have made, where Mr. Wolscht is the Nietzschean Übermensch—or, to be precise, the Überkleinesmädchen—of the new order.
No doubt opponents will say that such a view will create chaos. Law courts must recognize an age of consent and an age of criminal responsibility; Schools need an objective standard of age to structure their curricula; And it is in everyone's best interest that one-year-olds are not allowed to drive on the highways or drink Scotch or play in their cribs with loaded AK-47s. Well, yes, of course—but, please, do not shoot the messenger. I have not created the politics of repudiation which drives so much of the Left today. I am merely pointing out that its logic is inexorable. Those who accept its premises and yet seek to curb its power according to their own tastes are merely so many desperate postmodern Canutes, shouting impotently at the relentless waves of ecstatic nihilism that are even now crashing against the shore.
Still, it is the season of goodwill and I would hate to end this article in such a negative fashion. So let me make a small, positive, and I hope helpful, contribution to the political vocabulary of the New Left. In this age when every micro-identity and pseudo-victim needs some bit of rebarbative sociological gibberish to give credibility to their angry resentments, I offer a new piece of incantatory mumbo jumbo to help us all identify and demonize yet one more species of unacceptable bigotry: Heterotemporal heliocentrarchic transagephobia. This is the irrational, reactionary belief that time is significant, that age is a given, and that those who deny this are idiots, liars, or in urgent need of psychiatric help.
When, twenty years from now (forgive the heliocentrarchic heterotemporalism of that phrase), the U.S. Supreme Court magically finds the right to transageism in the Constitution, then remember, folks, you heard it here first.
Carl R. Trueman is Paul Woolley Professor of Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary.