The song, now almost an anthem, I believe, begins thus:
Are you a boy, or are you a girl?
With your long blond hair you look like a girl
Yeah, you look like a girl
You may be a boy
(Hey) you look like a girl
And so on. The song was composed by Geoffrey Morris and performed by the aptly named group the Barbarians. Their heyday was the late 1960s. Time has forgotten Geoffrey and, of course, the Barbarians, both of whom wandered off into early obscurity. Yet now I believe they are about to undergo a revival, which will be more thunderous than anything the original Barbarians could have imagined.
You may think that the Beatles were big, but wait until the Barbarians’ comeback is heard anew — that is, if any of the Barbarians can be found after all these years. I would suggest that their would-be promoters look for them among San Francisco’s homeless, or perhaps among the mentally deranged.
How will this song become an anthem, you ask? I think it could be adopted by the transgender movement, much as the civil rights movement adopted the much more tuneful “We Shall Overcome” to be sung at demonstrations, church gatherings, that sort of thing. Can you not see a thousand or so marchers from the transgender movement strutting down Pennsylvania Avenue waving their hortatory placards above their heads and singing, “Are you a boy, or are you a girl?”
Though promoters — or as we say, “activists” — will have to come up with the original Barbarians. If the original Barbarians are unavailable, the promoters will have to come up with a new set of Barbarians, which may not be as easy as you might think. If updated, transgender Barbarians are required to undergo transgender procedures using hormone treatments or the latest surgical techniques, they might prove to be reluctant patients.
Marching in a parade is one thing. Taking puberty blockers or taking even more extreme measures just to enter the public toilet of your choice is another matter. Frankly, the transgendered movement may have a more difficult time of it than the civil rights movement. By the time that the Rev. Martin Luther King was marching, a sizable majority of Americans already took the Constitution seriously and wished members of the civil rights movement well.
I get the impression that gimcrack civil rights movements of today, such as the transgender movement, have no idea how difficult the road chosen by King and his colleagues was, going all the way back to 1865 and the time of Frederick Douglass.
There was nothing easy about the route they took, starting with the end of the Civil War and extending to the early 1970s. Now according to officials from Do No Harm, a U.S. organization critical of the transgender hysteria, America leads the world in the availability of gender clinics, puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and surgery — yes, surgery! That is true for adult sex changes and even sex changes for minors. Apparently, some of these transgender patients now want their breasts and private parts back. This is an example of what economists might call buyer’s remorse, but there is not much the economists or even the surgeons can do for them.
It seems things are changing. As The Washington Times reported on a recent Do No Harm study, “Its study emphasizes countries that are rethinking gender transition procedures or hormone treatments. It points to Finland, which in 2020 issued guidelines that say psychotherapy, rather than puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones, should be the first-line treatment for youths experiencing gender dysphoria.”
Even the French have become leery. The French National Academy of Medicine has declared that “great medical caution should be taken in children and adolescents, given the vulnerability, particularly psychological, of this population and the many undesirable effects and even serious complications that can be caused by some of the therapies available.”
My guess is that the transgender movement is peaking even here in America — at least in the red states. Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, banned some gender transition procedures last year. Other red states will follow. So maybe I was too sanguine about the Barbarians’ chances of a comeback. But then, I have always been an optimist.
Glory to Ukraine!
• R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator. He is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and the author most recently of “The Death of Liberalism,” published by Thomas Nelson Inc.