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The United Kingdom has often served as a bellwether for the United States in terms of progressive social change. For example, in 1967 the UK Parliament passed the Abortion Act, which legalized abortion up to 28 weeks gestation everywhere except Northern Ireland. (Abortion was only legalized in Northern Ireland earlier this year.) Six years later in 1973, the US Supreme Court handed down its infamous Roe decision, which legalized abortion in all fifty states with no limits.
Following an eerily similar pattern, in 2013 the UK Parliament legalized same-sex marriage in England and Wales, and then in Scotland in 2014. (Same-sex marriage wasn’t legalized in Northern Ireland until earlier this year.) A year and a half later in 2015, the US Supreme Court decisively legalized same-sex marriage in all fifty states in the infamous Obergefell case.
The same pattern between the UK and her anglophone cousin, as Churchill affectionately referred to the US, can be observed on social issues as diverse as divorce, gender equality, and health policies. The pattern is unmistakable: as goes the UK, so the US. Generally speaking, the United States tends to be more socially conservative than Great Britain, but only a few years behind social change.
News out of the UK last month, however, offers a remarkable break from precedent. Instead of rolling out the red carpet to LGBT activists, the UK has chosen to reel it back in—at least in one particular instance. Liz Truss, Minister for Women and Equalities, made headlines when she said the British government intends to protect gender dysphoric children from life-altering decisions, which would possibly ban irreversible gender-reassignment surgeries and hormone therapies for minors.
In a speech about the Gender Recognition Act, an ironically progressive piece of legislation, Minister Truss said it was “very important” to protect British adolescents from “decisions that they could make, that are irreversible in the future.” The UK passed the Gender Recognition Act in 2004, which allows citizens to legally change genders, as members of the European Union and sponsors of the related European Court of Human Rights — a veritable engine of progressive change in the West. The Act was drafted in response to European court rulings.
LGBT activists immediately responded to the news in typical fashion, with utter disregard for the physical well-being of impressionable youth. Instead, in slavish devotion to transgender ideology, activists doubled down on the argument that certain children should be able to have healthy organs destroyed by surgeons.
But if the UK government is to follow through with Minister Truss’s proposal, this would mark a significant political turning point in the West. A country that has heretofore granted unqualified support for LGBT ideology now questioning at least some of the tenets of the newest but most radical anthropological experiment to date. Progressivism would be confronted with real moral progress.
If, as Mark Twain once quipped, history doesn’t repeat itself, but often rhymes, this development out of the UK should lead to some serious conversations in the United States. Currently in America, only six states are seeking to protect minors from doing lasting harm to their physical bodies and their psyches by undergoing so-called gender-reassignment surgery and irreversible hormone therapy. We are talking about double-mastectomies for teenage girls and castration for teenage boys. Even female genital circumcision, as reprehensible as the Islamic practice is, does not render results as consequential as gender-reassignment surgery. The enlightened Western man can rightly spot barbary in the Middle East, but can he spot it in his own country’s health clinics?
During World War II, Churchill made many memorable speeches in the face of an unprecedented threat to civilization. In perhaps his most famous speech, where he essentially spoke into existence Britain’s steely determination to fight Nazi aggression to the death — on the beaches, on the landing grounds, in the fields and streets — Churchill concluded with hope directed toward his cousins across the pond. Britain would never surrender, but would fight “until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”
Perhaps now, in God’s good time, we have come to an hour where the old world might step forth to the rescue and the liberation of the New.
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