If you identify as a girl, assigned female at birth, and you like the colour pink, you like wearing dresses and sparkly things, that’s awesome. But if you are a boy who likes pink sparkly things that’s also awesome.
It’s not a case of saying, let’s break everything down so that there’s nothing, so there’s no meaning in anything. It’s a case of opening it up so everybody can have access to everything.
These are comments from CJ Atkinson, author of the new book Can I Tell You About Gender Diversity? They are quoted in a promotional article in the The Guardian , which explains that the book is “being introduced into some [British] primary schools as a resource for children, parents and teachers, and claims to be the first book to explain ‘medical transitioning’ to children as young as seven.” The article comfortably notes criticisms of the book from right wing sources. It adds:
The 60-page booklet is the latest in the Can I Tell You About …? series of books published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers which are designed to offer a simple introduction to sometimes complex and challenging issues, including adoption, autism, depression, eating disorders and ME/chronic fatigue syndrome.
The book is therefore part of a continuing push to normalise transgender identity and conceal its elite-driven origins and its ideological underpinnings.
Like many if not most people viewing this article, I do not expect to read the book. The article itself is of interest, though, as a stand-alone item, particularly the comments quoted above from Atkinson. They could be read as progressive in intent: the first sentence designed just to soothe traditional-minded parents, and the rest a call to free both girls and boys from any kind of sex-stereotypic pressures. Or they could be read as articulating the conservatism of trans ideology: pinkification is a free choice females make, and something to celebrate; “access to everything” only means access to the alternative stereotype; females remain forever handcuffed to femininity, and males to masculinity.
So, is the message in these quoted comments progressive or conservative? How about “progressive” and conservative. Rather than wonder what exactly Atkinson had in mind, it is more useful to see the article as continuing the mass media tradition of appealing simultaneously to multiple audiences around the issue of transgender, to offer something for everyone. Left-liberals who still feel some uneasiness about the stereotyping inherent in trans ideology are soothed with vague suggestions that all is well. More traditionalist readers are assured that this strange new trend does not really threaten their core values.