Daniel Patrick Moynihan and the triumph of deviancy

trans bathroom

Former Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan,  writing in his 1993 article “Defining Deviancy Down” posits  “…over the past generation, the amount of deviant behavior in American society has increased beyond the levels the community can ‘afford to recognize’ and that, accordingly, we have been redefining deviancy so as to exempt much conduct previously stigmatized, and also quietly raising the ‘normal’ level in categories where behavior is now abnormal by any earlier standard.”

I think we’ve reached the point where we can say without fear of contradiction that Moynihan was both correct and, at the same time, crippled by a lack of imagination.

Choose-your-sex restrooms.

I, indeed my 10-year-old daughter, can remember a time when only perverts haunted women’s restrooms dressed as women. I can remember when you had to know the secret spot in order to be able to see inside the girl’s locker room. Now it is an OSHA regulation.

Recognizing that the moment when nature calls is not the ideal time to wrestle with this question, the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued on Monday a timely “Guide to Restroom Access for Transgender Workers.” OSHA has been regulating bathrooms for more than 40 years now; Regulation 1910.141, issued in 1972, already requires employers to provide “toilet rooms separate for each sex.” OSHA is now clarifying that the question of whether a user of said room is male or female should be left, under “model practices,” entirely up to that person, and that no employee should be asked to use a segregated transgender-only bathroom facility.

At least 18 states allow you to use whatever bathroom you feel you want to use… and the number is climbing.

Choose -your-sex athletics.

Men and women have different athletic competitions for a reason. If they didn’t, there wouldn’t be women’s athletic programs… other than, arguably, synchronized swimming and cheerleading. The tenth fastest boys high school 100 meter time beat the women’s 100 Gold Medal time by two-tenths of a second. But times they are a-changin’:

She calls this “the most awesome year of my life,” which likely comes as a shock and maybe even a disappointment to those who did their level best to make it one of her worst.

It wasn’t exactly an epiphany for Gabrielle Ludwig to discover that life is good. The 52-year-old transgender basketball player who is playing her second year for Mission College, a community college in Santa Clara, Calif., had experienced far too much of the other side to not recognize the difference.

Choose-your-sex education.

Are you a man and having trouble getting into an elite college? Never fear. This may end up being the male answer to the pervasive sex discrimination created by Title IX:

Barnard College has decided to admit transgender women, becoming the latest women’s college to issue a new policy acknowledging the fluidity of gender.

The new policy, announced Thursday, says Barnard will consider applicants who consistently live and identify as women. That excludes transgender men — those born female but identifying as male. The decision is an attempt to balance Barnard’s identity as a women’s college with what the school calls “an evolving understanding of gender identity.”

As Moynihan noted, a society can only take a certain amount of crazy. When crazy becomes too commonplace, the defense mechanism is to get government and professional groups to declare behavior that was previously crazy to be normal. What Moynihan didn’t predict was that there is a veritable bottomless pit of crazy out there just begging to be normalized. Two other corollaries he didn’t foresee were 1) that once the crazy-to-normal barrier has been breached for one pathology that society loses any meaningful defense against normalizing the next pathology, and 2) that these normalizations of crazy are not a linear function but rather a logarithmic one that eventually results in rapid-fire changes of crazy-to-normal.

For all intents and purposes, deviancy has won. You are hard pressed to name any deviant behavior that doesn’t have a lobbying group representing it. What was unthinkable only a couple of years ago, that an adult male could have free rein to use women’s bathrooms and locker rooms and play women’s sports, is now required by federal regulation and will, ultimately, be enforced by federal courts.