I was wasting time scrolling through my Facebook feed, when I came across a post that said something along the lines of:
If you believe that transgender women are men, and transgender men are women, then either DM me for more information or unfriend me now.
Now this person isn’t a close friend, but rather a friend of my sister’s. But we have had a few good moments of quality time over the years. There is much we disagree on. For instance, she is a lesbian, in a lesbian marriage, while I hold to traditional views on sexuality and marriage.
One of those quality moments I mentioned was having dinner together while we were both on vacation for a mutual friend’s marriage. We were the only two people in our group travelling alone, and everyone else was having ‘couple time’. We had a very pleasant meal on the beach at sunset, and both of us spoke longingly about the people who we were dating, both of whom ended up being our spouses.
Maybe it’s just me, but I had no problem sharing this conversation without a hint of judgment or disdain, even though I hold strongly to my differing values. I really appreciated the depth of affection she had for her partner, and it was a really good conversation. We live in a diverse society where people are free to live their lives as they see fit. I believe strongly in the golden rule, and since I wouldn’t want someone demeaning my values or rejecting my friendship because of them, I really take no issue doing the same for others. We can still get along, after all, and enjoy others as individuals even when we disagree, even on fundamental things. I think this is called ‘tolerance’.
But tolerance, once demanded from those who live alternative lifestyles and values, seems to be rejected more and more, just as it is being adopted more and more from those who hold traditional values. I think it’s fairly obvious why. Cultural values in America have quickly changed, to the point that the alternative values are those dominant in the culture, while traditional values are being pushed out of polite society. Perhaps the transgender issues are one of the most prominent examples of how rapid this is occurring.
So what did I do? Well, what she asked. I unfriended her.
I considered writing a message first, but I’m just tired, and (maybe this is a faulty attitude) it would not have been productive. If she does notice, and happens to ask, I will tell her why. Perhaps I will send her to this post.
I know she would have sent me links, or made arguments about scientific bases for transgenderism, or highlighted the “hate” of people not agreeing with transgender values. Trust me, I’ve heard it all. I understand the issue better than most, having been a roommate for many years with a transgender woman as he progressed from short cropped hair and jeans to long hair, fake boobs, and leggings. I love that man and still count him as a friend, even though we definitely do not agree. If he happens to ever read this, maybe he’ll understand that we just view these things differently, and that doesn’t change how much I value him as a person and friend. But frankly, I’m afraid he too will reject me because I am not willing to go along with calling a rake a spade.
And that would be a shame.
There’s a theory going around political science circles that has taken off in this new cultural era, that of the “Big Sort“. The idea is that, while American society is more diverse than ever, it is becoming more polarized than ever, as people self-select into geographies and affiliations that share their own views, to the exclusion of others. It’s generally viewed as a negative development.
It’s long been obvious on a political level, as political bubbles have been around for ages. But I haven’t had it affect me on a personal level, at least not to this extent, until now. And I’m afraid it’s only going to get worse.
My life will go on okay without her friendship on Facebook. If my other friend were to disown me because I do not share his views on his transgender expression, I would lose more, but life would go on. But I worry about the cumulative cost of this, personally and on a societal basis. I am also concerned about the chilling effect of all this–how I suppress or hide my true beliefs from genuine friends because I worry their friendship is contingent on me checking some box in sharing certain values.
Or at the very least, I fear a gut-wrenching and uncomfortable conversation that only serves to alienate us from one another. But then again, maybe such a conversation will be productive, and help us both realize we can be friends without agreeing, even on fundamental things. I think of the lesbian married couple my wife and I really enjoy spending time with, or my gay cousin and his extreme-activist partner. I think of many members of my family and their far-left views on politics and utter disdain for traditional religion. There are many others I count as friends for whom this is a worry of mine.
So what do we do? How do we act? What are the consequences of this trend and the prospects for it coming back the other way?
I know one thing. I believe what I believe, and will hold fast to my values, including the value that I will treat others as I want to be treated, and that all people have value no matter what they may believe or do.