Anyone following gender critical politics must come across Jennifer Bilek. “I write at the intersection of humanity, technology and runaway capitalism,” she says on her website, 11th hour. “I have been on the left side of politics all my life, until now, where I find myself in a political wilderness, with no political home. Beyond that, labels are no longer serving me.” Her site prominently features the hashtags #followthemoney and #itscapitalismstupid.
It’s hard to imagine a civil rights movement so indelibly tied to the capitalist marketplace that it could be used to sell fashion, makeup, hormones, surgery, cosmetology services, movies, TV series, mental health treatment, and women’s underwear, while concurrently being invested in by billionaire philanthropists, the technology and pharmaceutical industries, major corporations, and banks…
There is plenty of money flowing to transgender organizations, but even more going to normalizing transgender ideology in the culture, in language, through media, marketing, and commerce, and by billionaires’ philanthropic funding of nonprofits and other institutions.
Her rage at the impact on women is very evident. She notes, for example, that the firm TomBoyX – which sells woman’s and girls’ underwear, targeted to comfort and ease of movement for tomboy activities – has recently run an ad of a “young woman with double mastectomy scars donning their boxers under a caption that reads: ‘This canvas was given to you but you made it your own. You crafted your own story. Share it with the world. #moretome.’”
This message is a clear glorification of chosen body disfigurement posing as self-actualization and liberation, sickness as wellness, self-hatred made into empowerment, and cutting and maiming female flesh for public consumption via uber-marketing…
In all this, she says, the biomedical industry is central. In The Standard (21 August 2019) she states:
The massive medical and technological infrastructure expansion for a tiny (but growing) fraction of the population with gender dysphoria, along with the money being funneled to this project by those heavily invested in the medical and technology industries, seems to make sense only in the context of expanding markets for changing the human body. Trans activists are already clamoring for a change from “gender dysphoria” to “gender incongruence” in the next revision to the international register of mental diagnosis codes, the ICD-11. The push is on for insurance-paid hormones and surgeries for anyone who believes his or her body is in any way “incongruent” with his or her “gender identity.”
Bodily diversity appears to be the core issue, not gender dysphoria; that and unmooring people from their biology via language distortions, to normalize altering human biology.
The Christian Post (14 March 2020) quotes her as saying that “Elites in the medical industry driving this ideology seek to get businesses on board… through training and punish dissenters with financial exclusion. Most industries intersect with pharma and tech so it is difficult not to comply.”
Where is all this heading? Toward transhumanism, says Bilek.
The dark design
Transwoman Martine Rothblatt’s book, From Transgender to Transhumanism, “reads like a blueprint for the modern-day trans project to infiltrate every sector of our societies”:
This is happening at a time in our history when the escalation of robots and artificial intelligence are also surging in the marketplace with female-simulated robot sex dolls that are frighteningly close in texture and appearance to real humans acting as stand-in prostitutes in brothels, and for some men, stand-in women in relationships. Robot nannies that supposedly offer guidance and friendship for children while their parents are away, are being marketed by Mattel and other corporations as “the future of raising children.”
One problem with these arguments is that the trans trend is moving away from the medical model towards simple self-ID, which de-emphasises physical change and so offers less to big pharma and big tech. A broader problem is the deterministic nature of Bilek’s case, and the whiff of conspiracy around it: it implies that the trans trend is driven unilaterally by certain profit-hungry bosses and billionaires and their allies or lackeys within the trans lobby. For example, in The Federalist she says:
One has to wonder if the LGB civil rights banner has not just been strategic positioning for transgenderism to claim civil rights, currying popular sympathies already well cultivated for the LGB community, as a pretext to insert itself into the global marketplace, our schools, universities, courts, and medical establishments for more nefarious purposes.
The trans trend is indeed funded by billionaire philanthropists and corporations, as previously discussed on this blog. But it is not just the creature of a particular cabal of bosses, however powerful.
The mainstreaming of the trans trend
Gender ideology has been mainstreamed by the ruling class as a whole, to help it address the needs of the capitalist system as a whole – in particular, its need to keep women down.
Capitalism is addicted to women’s unpaid labour as carers and home makers. “The value of this shadow labor is staggering: $10.9 trillion, according to an analysis by Oxfam. It exceeds the combined revenue of the 50 largest companies on last year’s Fortune Global 500 list, including Walmart, Apple and Amazon.” (New York Times 5 March 2020). In cold capitalist terms, women’s unpaid labour keeps the paid workforce (including themselves) refreshed and work-ready, and rears the next generation of wage slaves. Women have long tolerated this unpaid work because they have been made to see themselves as natural nurturers, and inferior to men. The system thus has a vital interest in maintaining sexist ideas. This ongoing war against working women inevitably impacts on all women as a sex, even ruling class women who help to perpetuate the system.
But capitalism has also drawn women deeply into the paid workforce, bringing them new experiences which weaken the hold of the old stereotypes – a dilemma for the bosses. They have to deal with this dilemma in the context of political and cultural changes over which they have limited control. So for example the capitalist class has endorsed liberal feminism as a compromise that reflects women’s growing social power and political awareness without challenging sexism as such. The sexism of gender ideology is a very handy new element in this fake-progressive worldview.
It is only on this foundation that particular sections of capitalism, such as the pharmaceutical industry, derive their own benefits from gender ideology.
Bilek is right to say that transgender ideology “came out of the medical industrial complex”, but at first it was just a small oddity on its margins. The bosses only really got behind it in the early 2000s, when its value as a new form of sexism, adapted to modern times and sensibilities, became apparent for capitalism.
Before this, in the latter part of the twentieth century, gender ideology owed its expansion to postmodern academics and intellectuals. Postmodernism is essentially conservative. It arose as an attack on Marxism and liberation politics. But it does not dance to the tune of the elite, in fact it has a sneering, pseudo-radical side which rankles with bosses and politicians.
This reflects the other key factor in the rise of gender ideology. Postmodernism arose out of the ebb in class struggle that set in during the late 1970s, and the political demoralization of the workers movement and the left which followed. In this environment the old calls for “one struggle, one fight”, centred around the workers movement, fractured and decayed into identity politics; women’s liberation largely gave way to liberal feminism. This created the conditions for the new gender sexism to take hold on the left. The bosses and their corporate media had no direct involvement in this process, they simply worked with the material given them on the political terrain.
Social conservatives and capitalism
Social conservatives can be suspicious, even hostile, to big business, while not seeing the bosses as the ruling class or capitalism as the defining element of our social system. Jennifer Bilek’s choice of media platforms, and her acceptance by those platforms, shows an affinity with this sort of social conservatism, and her arguments are consistent with it, albeit at its most extreme anti-capitalist edge. But as previously discussed on Freer Lives (eg here and here) any alliance with social conservatives sets back women’s rights and plays to the case made by the pro-gender left: that attacks on the trans trend, even when posed as being anti-establishment, are always right wing.