I’ve only seen the ad once, and I haven’t been able to find it online, yet it still made an impression on me — just not the impression it was intended to make. It was a minute or so of attractive-looking people simply saying, “I am a man,” and, “I am a woman.” Only an equality logo in the lower right corner of the screen hinted at a punch line to come. “I am a man,” “I am a woman,” they repeated and repeated, until the final words were spoken: “Just like you,” and a transgender message splashed on the screen.
My daughter was there. As mother to a seven-week-old son, Lisa had plenty of reasons to recognize “just like you” as a total farce. My wife and I had driven 800 miles for our first visit to our new grandson, which is why I was silent here on The Stream last week. Why write columns when you could bounce your grandson on your knees instead? Yet there’s an answer to that question: When I write now, I’m thinking of the kind of world he’s going to grow up in.
Who Are They Trying to Kid?
And in what kind of world had the “women” in that commercial grown up, I wonder? Each one of them started out as someone’s grandson. Some of them probably still have grandparents who think sadly of them as “my grandson,” and for good reason, too. Whatever their “female” experience may be, it was marked by a male beginning, by painful dissatisfaction with their male biological identity, and by one kind of “transition” or another.
So no, with all that history, not even they could think they’re “just like” any other woman. Not unless they think all those very real differences are too trivial to bother with. Is that supposed to be the message? Do the “women” in the ad want us to think their life stories matter so little? That we can just disregard all that, along with their biological makeup? That the fact of their looking and acting like women (for the space of an appearance on a commercial, at least) is all it takes to make them “just like” all other women?
If so, doesn’t that betray a belief that one’s gender is directly tied to how one looks and acts? That seems to be the message. It goes against everything else their movement is supposed to stand for. There’s simply no way anyone in it could think they were telling the truth.
Who then are they trying to kid? The ad is one massive contradiction in history, biology, and logic, jam-packed into a mere 60 seconds.
Who Is “Just Like” Whom Here?
Lisa saw the ad, and it angered her so much, she shouted, “That offends me!” I’m no fan of the politics of offense, and neither is she; she has a good head on her shoulders. This time, though, it was the right word for a perfectly appropriate response. They’re not just saying they’re just like you and me, which is bad enough. They’re saying we’re just like them. You can’t have it just one way; if two things are alike, then they’re both alike.
If you’re a woman, your femininity, your biology, and your life story must all be so nearly the same as theirs, there’s no difference worth mentioning. My own essential masculinity, from boyhood until now, must not be any different than that of the self-styled “man” who grew up hating her female biology. Am I supposed to think I’m just like her? Really?
And what about the sexy-looking “woman” in the ad wearing the classy leather jacket, who grew up wishing he wasn’t a guy? Is Lisa just like him? Not even close. Is my wife just like that? I’m feeling Lisa’s anger myself now, just thinking about it. (They didn’t choose a Rachel Levine for the ad, for obvious reasons.)
All these trans people have turned their public personas upside down, trying to make their outsides match their insides. I grieve for their pain, which must be horrendous. Their lives are about trying to be what they never were and never properly can be. Even the one who looks in the mirror and says, “Success! I look and feel like male!” is claiming victory in a battle no actual male even thinks of fighting.
Don’t Buy What You Must Deny
Trans males and biological males are starkly, undeniably, different, and the same is of course true for women. Do not call me bigoted for speaking the obvious; that which no one, not even the most committed trans activist, could deny. They know the differences are real. “Just like you” isn’t true. So don’t buy it. Take it instead as a marker of trans activists’ willingness to use dishonest messaging to market their cause.
They know a lot of viewers will process the ad emotionally rather than rationally. These viewers will let pleasant images of attractive-looking people saying “I’m just like you,” and by the power of association they’ll start thinking there’s something good about “just like you.” Before long, they’ll begin thinking (though without really thinking) that there’s something true about “just like you.” It’s a proven method of persuasion. It works.
We should all see it for what it is instead: One attractive person after another, smiling sweetly or handsomely at the camera, saying aloud, “I’m a man,” or “I’m a woman,” while thinking privately, “It works, so I’ll say it. Everyone knows I’m very different from you in all kinds of important ways, ways that really matter to me. But I’ll hide all that, on camera, at least. I don’t need to tell the truth. You’ll come along soon enough, as long as you don’t actually think about what you’re seeing and hearing.”
Dishonest manipulation, that’s their game. I’m willing to bet you’re more honest than that. Or in other words, that’s not “just like you,” either.
Tom Gilson (@TomGilsonAuthor) is a senior editor with The Stream and the author or editor of six books, including the recently released Too Good To Be False: How Jesus’ Incomparable Character Reveals His Reality.
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