If You Give A Mouse a Cookie, You Feed Him For A Day

my slope is slippery but my heart is true

As everyone knows, we are all engaged in a vigorous debate about the scope and nature of the rights of trans people, a debate we all conduct with the intensity and attention to detail that would make Diderot proud. Diderot, it will be remembered, died defending the rights of people to say things with which he personally disagreed. What’s that, you ask? He died defending the other guy’s opinion? What a chump! We never hear about such things on Twitter.com, in our age of entrenchment and echo chambers and such. Well, quite so. Diderot was a man who valued other people’s opinions more than his own life, and a model of conscience we could all do with a little more of today. When one of his allies was attacked, Diderot punched himselfin the face,when his opinion reached popular acclaim, he would say three very stupid things on purpose. And when somebody disagreed with him, he laid down his sweet, sweet life so that plurality opinion might thrive. I meditate daily on Diderot’s example, and hope that one day someone may say something so profoundly disagreeable that I may too have an opportunity to martyr myself for the cause.

Perhaps an opportunity presents itself in one of the weaker arguments that anti-trans activists have in their arsenal, the argument that they sometimes summarize as “if you give a mouse a cookie...” as though that were a real expression with an obvious conclusion. I still don’t really know what the second half of the sentence is supposed to be! “If you give a mouse a cookie... you better believe he’ll eat it,” maybe. “If you give a mouse a cookie, next thing you know he’ll be fucking your wife for free.” In any case, one thing is clear, however the sentence ends, it is going to try to persuade you not to give that mouse that cookie. The phrase comes from the title of a children’s book published by the American author Felicia Bond, which I haven’t read, but which appears to be a little capitalist fable about how if one feeds mice, one soon becomes obligated to supply them with grooming products and other domestic comforts. Now, when it comes to feeding mice, no such legal or ethical obligation can be said to exist. But the argument, mediated by the tale of a cartoon mouse, is presumably designed to explain to rich children why it is good for mommy and daddy to hoard their wealth away from the poor. Other titles in Bond’s series that we are invited to finish would include “If You Take a Mouse to the Movies [He’ll Turn Into a Homosexual],” “If You Give a Dog a Donut [She’ll Start a Union],” and “If You Give a Pig a Party [You’ll Be the First One He Purges].”

If you give a teenager some hormone blockers, though... they’re going to want to transition when they can do so. It is an argument, and I think facially a very bad one, that is designed to explain a fact that might otherwise trouble those who dislike trans people. A large majority of people who self-ID as trans when children, and are given puberty blockers, later decide, when they reach an age where they can take HRT, that they will indeed do so. Trans people have a pretty good explanation for this phenomenon: the kids were mostly right, and so they transition as soon as they can because that is what they want to do. The alternative explanation, known as the “if you give a mouse a cookie” argument, is that the kids are deluded, but that once they are on the puberty blockers, they are committed/concerned about sunken costs, and so they change sex to save face. It’s not an argument I’d love to have to sign off on myself, because it is self-evidently quite stupid. But remember that the general line of  argument against provision of hormone blockers for kids is that it sets them on an irreversible path towards transition that they may regret. So the overwhelming evidence that the path is indeed reversible, that most choose not to reverse it, and that most people who transition express quite the opposite of regret, is a rather unfortunate development for those who wish to keep alive the spirit of dispute. So, in the spirit of Diderot, I’m going to try to defend the proposition that Kids Are Changing Sex For No Good Reason.

So here are some alternative explanations for the high rates at which people decide to transition after they have been on puberty blockers.

—As more women enter the medical profession, doctors become both kinder and sexier. For some young people, regular appointments with their doctors are their only scheduled encounters with people they like and/or are attracted to. So they’re loth to give them up. Spending time with doctors, however, is no substitute for the real thing, and kids should be encouraged to put their energies into more appropriate romantic and sexual prospects.

—Kids are distracted these days, with their iPhones and the like. Some probably don’t even notice that they’re doing a sex change. They just put a cross in the box that says YES (because Apple taught them to do that like good little sheeple) and then, hey presto, they’re changing sex.

—There’s one thing we know about kids, and that’s that they just want to be cool. And what’s cooler than being trans? (“Ice trans!”) It’s peer pressure - kids see so many trans role models, like seriously when was the last time an Olympic gold medal or an Acting Oscar was won by someone who wasn’t trans? - and they fall headlong into it.

—Children are like mice, right? First they just want cookies. Then they want top surgery. Then they want civil rights. Where’s it going to stop? Votes for mice? Come on, be serious. 

—You know, I’ve been thinking about what brings us together. Gold? Hormones? No. Stories. Stories tell us who we are, where we’ve come from. What we’ve been. Stories. Stories. Stories. Find the nearest male mediocrity and give him everything you have ever been and will be. Detransition a bitch today.

—Anti-clericalism. You used to send your weird kids off to the priesthood, but they look askance at you if you do that any more. Is nothing sacred, you bastards?

—Google the phrase “crisis of masculinity” and ctrl+c/ctrl+v the second paragraph of the third news story that comes up. 

—The trans guys are being controlled by the trans women. The trans women are being controlled by the Russians. 

—Here’s something they don’t tell you. Synthetic hormones are addictive like drugs. And like drugs, the only effect they have on you is they just make you want more. And more. Until they scoop out your entire insides until there is nothing left but emoji, and pink emoji at that.

And THAT’s the shiv, my Lord Caractacus! I apologize for the absolutely bonkers nature of that obviously abortive attempt at a new catchphrase but you see I’ve just arrived in Paris and I am as jet lagged as a Dornish maester. Wish D. and me luck, I’m gonna write some Travel Writing later in the week.