From the editor’s desk: 

I had planned to use this column to write about the Uvalde school shooting in Texas on May 18, and how it ties back to abortion and other cultural rot. I’m postponing that essay because this issue is jam-packed with a lot of “heavy” material. Instead, I return to covering a miscellany of events as is my usual practice in this column. There is no shortage of material about the lunacy of the modern world to draw from and I will draw your attention to those momentarily, but there is also some good news and common-sense out there worth noting.

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Kate Gillio wrote a powerful essay for Crisis “How Having a Gay Father Showed Me the Lies of Progressive Catholics.” She describes how “my world began to shift radically after my father explained why he was sleeping with men.” That revelation to his daughter changed the way Gillio viewed her father, his home, and their relationship – none for the better. “When someone in authority,” she writes, “especially someone who is trusted, tells a child something is true that child will believe them.” That is why, Gillio argues, “Pride parades, drag queen story hour, and teaching gender as a social construct are so insidious.” And it is not merely parents whose lies can ruin a child. Gillio describes the “ultra-liberal California parish” she and her mother joined when the latter remarried, and the 17-year-old Gillio “certainly embraced what I heard the (local) Church taught on sexuality: open-mindedness, tolerance, acceptance.” Yet, she was conflicted by “what the Bible said so clearly, and the progressive wing of the Catholic Church was eager to help me.” Her liberal Catholic university “did a fantastic job of not just excusing but celebrating the behaviour of my by-then deceased father by whole-heartedly embracing and validating the homosexual lifestyle.” Her Theology of Marriage class had a same-sex couple talk to the students about the “sacredness of their marriage.”  What changed Gillio’s mind along the way? Encounters with other moms who taught her the truth of Biblically based Christianity: ‘through the influence of my friends and by the grace of God, our family began to conform ourselves to the teaching of the Church.” She said without her friends’ “courageous truth-telling, I wonder if I would have changed.” Gillio noted that her early exchanges were sometimes heated, but because she knew her colleagues cared about her, the relationship between them was not defined by their disagreements. It is a helpful and hopeful reminder that while laws need much change and social structures reform, that the best way to change the culture is to change hearts and minds through our everyday encounters.

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In recent years, the best runners and swimmers and other competitors in women’s sports are often men — biological males who suppose themselves female, whether or not they have “transitioned.” This is patently unfair to actual women competing in events such as track and field, weightlifting, swimming, and mixed-martial arts. There have been comical pictures of actual girls and women on the lower tiers of medal ceremonies while an obvious male athlete is being draped with first prize, towering high above them. Few are willing to speak out against the unfairness of it all. Fortunately, FINA, the international swimming federation, has gone partway to competitive fairness in banning biological males who have gone through male puberty from competing in women’s competition. The rationale is straightforward: the average male body, regardless of what “gender-affirming” treatments they receive, is built larger and stronger than the average female body. (This does not mean that women can’t beat men in competition, but the tenth fastest man is often faster than the fastest woman. You might recall Billie Jean King beating Bobby Riggs in the 1970s; King was one of the best women tennis players at the time and Riggs was not ranked in the top 100 when she beat him.) The new FINA policy is not perfect; it permits pre-pubescent boys who took (dangerous) puberty blockers to compete in women’s swim meets if they can prove they have continuously suppressed their testosterone. FINA is considering an “open category” that would permit anyone regardless of their sex regardless of their sex or self-described gender identity to compete. It is not clear who precisely would want to swim in such competitions: women would be at a disadvantage and “transgender” men claim to be women and thus should find the compromise competitions demeaning to their made-up identity. Still, FINA has been a rare, if only partial, voice of sanity in maintaining the competitive integrity of its sport.

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Michael Robilard, writing for American Greatness, argues we must stop using the word “gender” in place of sex. “By now, it should be abundantly clear to anyone even halfway paying attention, that the singular term ‘gender’ has become the primary source of confusion, frustration, and consistent defeat for conservatives within the present transgender debate specifically, and the larger culture war generally.” The solution: “Stop using the word ‘gender’ altogether.” Robilard notes that the Left has used the “canopy term” gender for any number of concepts, including some of which are inherently contradictory: socially constructed gender roles to innately felt and privately determined gender identity, from instances of biologically determinative rare intersex disorders to sexual preference. It is all so confusing, perhaps deliberately so. (Instapundit Glenn Harlan Reynolds has said in a different context that the confusion and constantly changing definition is deliberate so that conservatives are always playing catch-up to the new rules of the game.) Feminists such as Simone de Beauvior and Judith Bulter made the distinction between biological sex and socially or culturally conditioned gender, and argued the latter had no relation to the former. Within a generation, gender became conflated with gender identity, which was deeply person, not socially created. Thus, we are told, gender was bad but gender identity was good. Robilard says the “radical definitional inconsistency, ambiguity, and compounding confusion” is an “unwinnable game” – by design. New York Times columnist Ross Douthat recently observed that at some point social mores changed about use of the term sex in reference to male and female because we tend to think of coitus when we hear the term sex. Robilard makes a convincing case that common sense, reason and strategic self-interest require us to use the term sex and eschew gender and to “refuse to engage in a game against an adversary who simultaneously operates as both player and rule-maker, opponent and referee.”

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The biologist J.B.S. Haldane was not using the word queer in the sense of gender identity or sexual orientation when he said, “The universe if not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose,” but the quote is probably apt with both connotations of the word.

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Last month the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement altering its breastfeeding recommendation from “age 1 and beyond” to “age 2 and beyond” depending on the desires of the mother and child. So far, so good. But the press release announcing the recommendation concludes with a paragraph: “The policy also notes that children of gender-diverse parents may have less access to human milk because of both social and biological constraints. When working with gender-diverse families, AAP suggests asking families what terms they use and that the term ‘chestfeeding,’ may be more accurate and inclusive as it concerns lactation and physiology in gender-diverse families.” So much there.

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I find the trotting out of drag queens in front of children at school events or libraries incredibly odd. I do not understand the pedagogical purpose of these exercises, let alone why grown adults think it wise to expose innocent children to gender-confused men parading as women and increasingly sexualized presentations such as mock stripping. Last month, to celebrate LGBTQ Pride a Dallas bar hosted “Drag Your Kids to Pride,” and video from the event made it abundantly clear that it was not appropriate for children” with men prancing in women’s underwear, gyrating and grinding against customers. Since then, there have been other reports of events labeled “family friendly” featuring cross-dressing, sexualized adults performing lewd acts in front of children. The New York Post reported that New York City spent more than $200,000 on drag shows for students last year and that most of the time parents were either not informed of the programs or were told they could not opt-out their children. Michigan’s Democrat Attorney General Dana Nesel, said in a press conference in response to growing awareness of drag shows at schools – controversy is not quite the word because traditional and social media generally ignore or censor news about drag time for kids — that “Drag queens make everything better. Drag queens are fun. A drag queen for every school.” Michigan, in case you are wondering, typically ranks in the bottom quintile in literacy and graduation rates so perhaps the focus of schools should be instruction that could help students read and finish high school rather than often illicit performative displays of transgenderism. As Jarrett Stepmen writes in the Daily Signal, “Revolutionary regimes have typically promoted total cultural transformation by converting the youth,” so “’A drag queen in every school’ is the Modern Left’s ‘chicken in every pot’.”

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I spend an inordinate amount of time online and on social media (a hazard of being a journalist), and I found a shocking but unsurprising number of people who thought that the Supreme Court’s ruling last month that a high school football coach should be allowed to pray at the 50-yard line after the game was wrong because high school athletes are impressionable and cannot resist the pressures of conforming to their coach’s wishes, but who also find nothing wrong with lewd drag performances in front of young children at libraries or schools. Big, burly football players cannot decide for themselves not to pray but exposing the smallest of impressionable children does not present a danger of grooming them for the LGBQT ideology? Got it.

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The Biden Administration is expanding Title IX laws against “sex discrimination” to include “gender-identity discrimination” and it will have the perverse effect of withholding federal school lunch program funding from schools that do not comply with their rules. So religious schools or school administrators that are attentive to concerned parents might have to deny low-income families access to their lunch programs if they refuse to take part in the grooming exercises of the transgender ideology? Got it.

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This is the July-August issue, so it is a little longer than usual. We will be running numerous book reviews and updates on developments related to overturning Roe throughout the Summer on our website. Be sure to visit TheInterim.com.