A Friday story from Reuters highlights a federal district court’s decision to proceed with a lawsuit from Kate Lynn Blatt – a man who imagines himself a woman – who claims that he has been discriminated against by his employer under the Americans with Disabilities Act because of his condition:
But U.S. District Judge Joseph Leeson avoided ruling on the constitutionality of the ADA, as the plaintiffs had sought, under the legal principle that courts should avoid decisions on constitutional grounds if possible. Being transgender is not considered a disorder by the American Psychiatric Association [APA], but it can give rise to gender dysphoria, a type of anxiety that may require medical treatment. Gender dysphoria forms Blatt's basis for making a claim under the ADA. Leeson, from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, found that simply being transgender would be insufficient to bring a case, but that gender dysphoria was a medical condition worthy of protection against discrimination.
According to an amicus brief from GLAD – a Massachusetts-based LGBT legal nonprofit – the explicit exclusion of “gender identity disorder” language in the 1990 version of the current law constitutes a violation of trans peoples’ constitutional rights. And that the “updated diagnosis of gender dysphoria (GD) in fact falls outside the scope of that exclusion as defined in the law,” implying that the law should be rewritten by judges as medical opinions shift.
This is where the rhetoric around the issue of transgenderism and employment law gets incredibly muddled.
There is currently another case moving through the federal circuit which makes the claim that being transgender should be held on the same grounds as race or sex. The plaintiff Kate Lynn Blatt found some receptive ears in the 7th Circuit, which went so far in its ruling to brazenly admit that it was taking the legislative task of rewriting federal discrimination law, rather than simply applying it, because Congress “may not have realized or understood the full scope of the words it chose” when it passed the law in the first place.
While this case invokes the Americans with Disabilities Act and demands protection under that statutory framework, it has the same end game of other cases that invoke federal civil rights law to claim that being transgender is no different than race or sex.
The American Psychiatric Association claims – at least according to the Reuters report – that gender dysphoria and simply being transgendered are two different things. The assertion, contrasted with the group’s own definition of the disorder, smacks of capriciousness and political correctness.
So the question then becomes whether or not imagining oneself to be a different sex than that of their biological makeup is something innate, or whether it is a mental disorder on the same tier as substance addiction or depression.
It is not something to be indulged. Nobody holds pride parades to celebrate the excesses of alcoholism, and nobody wants to inculcate grade-school children with the idea that the side-effects of schizophrenia are something to be revered and respected.
Nobody tells people with anorexia that they really are the fat person they see in the mirror, that starving themselves to make their body match their delusions is a compassionate response, and that anyone who doesn’t agree is bigoted. Rather, these are things that we view as destructive to the wellbeing of the human person — something to be addressed with charity, mercy, understanding, and, overall, some kind of correctional treatment.
So now there are two competing narratives before our judicial system. Either someone like Blatt is a woman simply because they say they are, or there is indeed a disorder at work that puts the person at odds with reality.
While some highly skilled philosophical contortionist in our court system may indeed find a way to make these two assertions work in tandem, these two assertions cannot coexist in an intellectually honest discussion. Either transgenderism is reality, or it is a disorder; it cannot be both.
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