Content warning – trans abuse, suicide.
At the end of last year, I had a reunion with my university class, and one of my former classmates brought up the “persecution” of Jordan Peterson over his opposition to it being illegal to call someone who “insists on being called it” as either he or she. I did my best to correct him from the top of my head – I do not remember all the details – and the debate eventually ended with him saying that he agrees trans people should be called by their preferred nouns, but that it should not be mandated by law because “criminalizing bad manners”.
Unfortunately, there is plenty of examples from around the world where it leads to when such bad manners as deliberately misgendering trans people are not policed. Like a few days ago, when a young trans boy Wiktor in Warszaw, Poland, committed suicide by jumping under the oncoming underground train. It was not his first attempt at suicide, but it was his last.
The story is, alas, common and exactly as expected. He expressed his gender identity and a desire to switch. He was supported in his decision by his mother, but that is where the good news end. At school, teachers insisted on misgendering him, schoolmates bullied and belittled him – and teachers did nothing about it. The medical establishment in Poland has failed him too. First his physician by insisting that he should try dating boys and would surely find it nice. They too insisted on gendering him as a woman and admitted only, reluctantly, that he might be a lesbian. Then the psychiatric care, into which he was put after his first suicide attempt, instead of supporting actual evidence-based care for trans people – transition – merely subdued him by drugs into temporary complacency. Nobody has done anything about the chicanery at school, the actual cause of suicidal thoughts. And his misgendering by medical and school officials continue even after his death.
In Poland, and unfortunately in the Czech Republic and Slovakia too, is very strong opposition to trans people, trying to deny their very existence. And, surprise surprise, it is being fueled and propagandized by the Catholic Church.
Words have power and when people die due to their use, they should be regulated by law. A law that forbids people intentionally misgendering someone is of course not a solution in itself. But laws against mugging are not a solution to criminality either. A solution to any problem consists of multiple components – and laws are usually part of it.