Steady, Charlize, even Tinseltown needs to stop and think when a boy says he’s a girl by Camilla Long in The Sunday Times 21.04.19
The original article is here.
I am always concerned when celebrities wade into political debates, not least because they are millionaires living in millionaires’ ghettos and immune to the myriad inconveniences and general tide of emotional slurry that the rest of us have to put up with. But, you know, as celebrities go I’ve always felt that the South African actress Charlize Theron is plain-talking and pragmatic.
When asked in a recent interview if she was dating, she answered that she was “shockingly available” after being single “for 10 years”. All fun stuff, unless you’re Sean Penn, obviously, to whom Theron was engaged in 2014.
Still. Still. She has now revealed that her son is transgender. Jackson, a little boy she adopted seven years ago, “looked at me when she was three years old and said ‘I am not a boy!’” said Theron last week.
“So there you go! I have two beautiful daughters. They were born who they are and exactly where in the world both of them get to find themselves as they grow up, and who they want to be, is not for me to decide.”
All of which seems sensible and solid, even-handed parenting. Theron is raising her daughters in an impeccably open and liberal fashion as is required of her as a celeb. Easier for her to do, obviously, since Jackson isn’t a seven-year-old boy wearing a dress in the place he was born, South Africa, but Los Angeles, where you’re burnt alive if you’re male and don’t turn up to the supermarket in a ballgown. I’m not sure her attitude would be as helpful if her boy wanted to explore make-up in Soweto, but at least she’s being honest.
Only dig a little further and I’m not sure this is as honest as it seems. There’s a sense that Theron is sticking to a script here that says she must unquestioningly embrace the full spectrum of her child’s transgender fancies.
She may officially say it “isn’t for her to decide” what gender her child is, but it seems she absolutely has and her decision is that her boy is a girl. “So there you go!” seems quite a final statement to make.
I’m going to gloss over the terrible middle-class problem with throwing up your hands and letting your children do whatever they want because you’re afraid of saying no. I’m going to ignore the immense issues with giving children everything, the result of which is a wild sense of self-entitlement in which they think their opinions are the only ones that matter (just look at all those climate-change protesters).
I’m only going to say that what Theron probably really thinks, like most parents, is that seven is far too young to decide on anything beyond what computer game you like. Only she would rather die than give any hint of this for fear of the backlash from activists who demand that everyone supports their tiny war. Being super-liberal and easy-going, she feels she must parrot the “acceptable” line — he’s definitely a girl — but this isn’t liberal or easy-going at all.
It is, in fact, an exquisite example of the monocultural groupthink that has seized all areas of political discourse, especially the trans kids debate. It seems utterly extraordinary that there is currently no reasonable position to take on the matter of trans children at all.
If you are remotely unsure, you are lumped in with supposed religious nuts such as the Catholic journalist Caroline Farrow, who was reported to the police for misgendering a trans child on social media. If, by contrast, you are seen in any way to entertain even the tiniest hint of gender fluidity in children — male children wearing dresses — you are instantly aligned with bonkers evangelists such as Susie Green, chief executive of a trans charity and the woman who took her own child to Thailand for genital surgery at 16.
Well-meaning liberals can easily get swept into the latter category, like the five clinicians who have resigned from the Tavistock clinic in north London, where children are treated for gender dysphoria on the NHS. They had arrived with good intentions, I assume, only to discover that the “vulnerable” children in need of help were being subjected to life-altering experimentation on low-quality evidence.
Can’t we just say wait and see? Is there no room for ambiguity in this debate? No one would demand that a child decided whether he or she was gay or straight at seven, so why is Theron irreversibly announcing that hers is trans right now?
The actor Rupert Everett spent much of his childhood dressed as a girl (specifically Mary Poppins’s daughter), but said that after he was 15, “I never wanted to be a woman again. Thank God the world of now wasn’t then, because I’d be on hormones and I’d be a woman.”