Over at The Economist, we have a somewhat simplistic article blathering away about how there's a backlash happening against "Gender Ideology".
I'm not going to dissect the article in detail, because there's a more important point that needs to be made here. The concept of "Gender Ideology" is fundamentally a creation of the various anti-transgender groups in an effort to define the discourse.
The problem with the term is that it is fundamentally a straw man in the first place. A variety of people opposed to transgender rights contributed to the "idea" that there is such a thing, be they "TERF"s, hardline religious types, or more recently the so-called "Gender Criticals".
These groups have tied all sorts of meanings to the concept - ranging from transgender people want to "erase" women, to resurrecting old anti-gay tropes like "transing" children (a variation on "Gay people are recruiting your children"). Like the old spectre of "The Gay Agenda", "Gender Ideology" is a hollow term filled with fear mongering ideas. It is designed not to inform (as a meaningful term would), but to mislead (as is often the case with propaganda).
Analyzing The Many Meanings
Every time the so-called "Gender Critical" lot start talking, they use terms like "Gender Ideology", but they never really define what they mean. Instead, over time, an assortment of accusations against the transgender community as a whole has been lumped in with it.
Meaning: Gender Ideology Erases Sex Differentiation
Meaning: Gender Ideology Attacks Sex-Based Rights
By "sex-based rights", this usually seems to mean "don't let someone with an icky penis into a women's washroom or change room", although it also plays into the "issues" around trans women participating in sports.
First of all, those separations arose out of several things - and none of them are truly rights-based. Instead, they actually arose out of long held cultural beliefs that are actually at the root of what feminism has been fighting against for decades, if not centuries. The idea that women have to be kept separate because otherwise men won't be able to "control themselves", combined with a long-standing cultural "fear" of the female body and how it works, led to the creation of these segregations.
One can see echoes of their origins in what are now seen as "quaint little myths" like "a groom should never see his bride on wedding day". Or, "a woman never talks about her age", etc. These are all things that perpetuate the mythology about the female body.
Additionally, the "boys will be boys" mentality has allowed a particularly toxic form of culture to develop among males. The objectification of women, crude jokes about forcing sexual intercourse on women, etc. have ultimately created an environment where coexistence is only possible within very structured contexts like marriage. Other interactions are carefully chaperoned.
How does this end up affecting transgender people? Well, it gets combined with this silly notion that "if you ever had a penis, you're a man" essentialism I talked about earlier. So even a transgender woman who has had genital surgery is not really considered "safe". The idea of the male as an objective threat has been amplified here to the point of declaring that anyone who ever might have had a penis is a threat.
Note that this particular concern only really affects transgender women, although it can also affect transgender men - but somehow they don't seem to come up in this discussion.
Now, there is a legitimate concern about sexual assault to be considered. There are no doubt some transgender people who are inclined to become sexual offenders. What is different here is that the entire population of transgender people are assumed to be sex offenders without any evidence that the rate of sexual predator behaviour is even at the same level as found in the general population.
When combined with the first proposition which denies the validity of someone's gender identity, we get a mentality which assumes not only that a trans woman is not in fact a valid woman, but also lumps them into the same category as rapists and perverts.
Meaning: "They're Transing Our Children"
This one is a particularly pernicious claim, because it attacks not only transgender people as a whole, but also levels an attack at the community of medical and mental health professionals who provide treatment to transgender people.
The claim made implies that the minute a child shows any kind of clinical level of distress about their gender or their body that they are whisked off to doctors, given hormones and surgery. They love to imply that:
1) Transgender people are constantly looking for children to "recruit"
2) That the medical practitioners are acting unethically
First, let's recognize the roots of this particular allegation. Fundamentally, it is a revisitation of the "the gays are coming for your children" attack used from the 70s-80s to attack gay rights. Part of the oh-so-secret "Gay Agenda" that opponents to gay rights claimed was some kind of insidious plot to "take over" society and destroy it. The implication is that transgender people are 'recruiting' children to be transgender in much the same way that gays were imagined to be 'grooming' children to lure them into homosexuality. To be kind, such claims of "recruiting" have always been utter nonsense, but it's been politically useful to create a false linkage with pedophilia simply because of the strong sense of disgust that particular word provokes in most people.
The second dimension of it is much more insidious because it implies a large scale conspiracy involving therapists, doctors, and others to "force" children to transition, or to encourage them to do so when not appropriate. The arguments around this often involve making some very elementary mistakes in interpreting formal studies, and the associated data. But it is also incorrect to imply that there is some conspiracy to force children to transition.
It is perhaps particularly important to recognize that so-called "puberty blocker" medications are not intended to transition anyone, but instead put the brakes on a natural, biological process to enable the person, in conjunction with therapists to make appropriate decisions without having the additional consequences of potentially experiencing "the wrong puberty" at the same time.