An Agnostic Transubstantiation
Pharmaceutical magicians and gender spells
Recently my friend Chris pointed out that people who believe in gender transition see it as a kind of magic. The actual effects of these medications are complicated and hard to understand for laymen, and the simple explanation that taking estrogen turns you into a girl and taking testosterone turns you into a boy is much easier to comprehend if you can’t or don’t want to wade through tons of medical literature and patient testimony.
But how is it, in our modern age of reason, that otherwise-rational people can believe something so absurd as that science can change someone’s sex? The obvious answer is that people don’t really believe it; they know it’s nonsense, and they’re only pretending it’s true so they can fit in. I don’t buy that. On some level, sure, a good chunk of people probably know that you can’t literally swap sexes, but on an emotional level, people who believe it really do believe it. They believe that, through the power of Science, gender transition changes a person’s fundamental essence from one sex to another.
Basically, I think some people (liberals, mainly) put far too much stock in science, and far too much trust in doctors. If you’re not clued in to how it all works (and I don’t know all that much more than the average person), it can seem like magic: doctors cure illness, amputate and reattach limbs, even transplant hearts from one body to another. They can rearrange your face to make you beautiful (sort of), give you pills that fix sadness (kinda), and even revive the recently-dead (as seen on TV). In real life all these things are messy and complicated and don’t always work, or work as well as they should; but in our cultural mythology, doctors are practically gods. Why wouldn’t they be able to turn men into women and women into men?
When I was about five years old I almost died from a strangulated inguinal hernia. I started feeling sick one day, felt severe stomach pain the next, and the day after that I wasn’t able to get out of bed. If I hadn’t been able to access medical treatment it would have killed me, but my parents took me to the hospital where I was put under general anesthesia. When I woke up, I had a scar on my abdomen and the pain was gone. That is magical, make no mistake; it’s the kind of thing which for most of our hundreds of thousands of years of evolutionary history would have been unimaginable. It indelibly impressed an idea into my impressionable brain: if there was ever something wrong with me, I just had to go to a doctor, and they would fix it.
When I first heard about “sex changes”—I don’t remember exactly when it was, but it was definitely when I was very young—I didn’t question it. Why would I? I knew from firsthand experience that doctors had the power to cut into a person’s stomach, rearrange their insides, and sew them back up without a problem. Why wouldn’t they be able to change a person’s sex? I didn’t just believe in the near-omnipotence of Science on a logical level—I believed it on a spiritual one. I believed it in a way that no amount of evidence or argument could shake. I believed in doctors the way people who were raised religious believe in God.
Do I believe, if I hadn’t been raised agnostic, I wouldn’t have developed this unconscious belief system? I don’t know. Maybe; maybe not. Faith in Science isn’t incompatible with faith in God. But I do think it’s misplaced. Doctors are humans, just as vulnerable to cognitive biases and trends as anyone else, just as fallible and mistake-prone as everyone else, just as capable of kindness and cruelty as everyone else. But to good liberals, who worship consensus and expert opinion, the word of the Medical Community as communicated through media spokespeople is holy writ.
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And PhizerModerna is a god...
Very true, it’s a fantastical form of wishful thinking, co-created by the medical establishment and by patients themselves neither of whom, for the most part, wish to look reality in the face: one’s sex can no more be transcended than many diseases can, or mortality itself. But seasoned doctors, nurses and patients who’ve suffered through oversold treatments do generally see through it.