UC Berkeley is well known for the left-wing tilt of its campus culture and its history as the birthplace of the free speech movement — although in more recent years, it has become a well known battleground in the culture war, as students and local agitators have repeatedly attempted to prevent conservative speakers, with protests that have sometimes escalated to violence. Roughly 100 protesters gathered outside the event, but no serious incidents occurred.
Before the event began, Young America’s Foundation, a conservative student organization that sponsored Walsh’s speaking tour, interviewed several students about their thoughts on Walsh’s appearance.
“There’s a difference between free speech and hate speech,” one young woman said. “If it is free and it is, like, what you believe, then that’s great. But if it’s against, like, the safety and health of other people, then it’s not right.” Hate speech does not exist in the United States as a legal concept, and what is often considered “hate speech” in other countries is protected in America by the First Amendment.
— YAF (@yaf) November 18, 2022
At the start of Walsh’s lecture, he quipped about the city’s issues with drug abuse and sanitation. “The thing I really loved about this area is that you can always find your way downtown, even if you don’t have a map or GPS, because you can just follow the stench of weed and fecal matter … this is public speaking 101, to start by insulting the host city.”
Walsh also noted that it was “providential” that he came to San Francisco to discuss the subject of gender ideology, as earlier this week, the city announced its “Guaranteed Income For Trans People” or GIFT, program, which will offer a select group of transgender individuals $1,200 a month because members of the trans community are “disproportionately impacted by poverty.”
“We already know that trans people are disproportionately affected by everything, really. … If there was an apocalyptic asteroid strike, the very last news report filed for CNN would have the headline, ‘Asteroid Apocalypse At Hand: Trans & BIPOC Most Affected.’”
Walsh also noted that gender confused individuals tend to have higher rates of mental illness and substance abuse, which he argues is a better explanation for their higher levels of poverty than alleged discrimination, given that the disparity exists in a place like San Francisco where the social attitudes toward such people are exceptionally welcoming.
Walsh also noted that the official government application form for the GIFT program includes 15 sets of gender pronouns such as ve/ver/vis and a sexual orientation of “f*****” (a slur for homosexuals who would seemingly be covered under the also listed “gay” orientation). Walsh noted other seeming redundancies in the list of 97 gender identities, such as “trans woman” and “woman of transgender experience.”
“What are these pronouns, what do they signify, what does it mean to be a ve/ver/vis? No one can really explain that.” Walsh said.
Walsh structured the bulk of his lecture around four common rebuttals to his perspective fielded by advocates of gender theory.
1. Sex and Gender are not the same
Walsh holds that the conceptual difference between the two categories has been deliberately obfuscated by such phrases as “trans women are women,” and that gender was first extracted from sex and then elevated above it in a rhetorical sleight of hand, and that “gender” was, in his mind, a useless concept outside of the study of language and the “gender” of certain words. Walsh also argued that the natural variation in human behavior in personality and self perception is better encapsulated by personality.
2. You say that “women” can get pregnant; what about women who can’t get pregnant?
Walsh noted that while some biological females, due to age or illness, cannot become pregnant, “women” are still “of the nature to get pregnant,” in the same way that it is “in the nature” of human beings to walk on two legs. Counterexamples also exist as the result of age or infirmity, but “does the existence of amputees and infants call into question the notion that human beings have two legs?”
3. The gender binary is a western construct and other cultures have more diverse beliefs about gender
Walsh spoke about his own experience outside the western bubble during his visit with the Maasai people in Kenya, noting that the idea of men getting pregnant was utterly foreign to them. Walsh also argued that while some cultures do have situations where a member of one sex “acts out” the role of the other sex in various ways, no other society has made the claim that those individuals literally are the opposite sex, making that idea a uniquely western concept, which can be traced back to a relative handful of academics in the middle of the 20th century.
4. Why do you care?
Walsh argued that this was an intellectual cop out, as the advocates of gender theory care deeply for their beliefs and want him and others to care as well, they just want him to come to more favorable conclusions. Furthermore, Walsh argued for the preeminent value of truth and stated that he was so deeply opposed to gender theory because it is simultaneously pervasive and wrong.
From there, Walsh fielded questions from the audience on a variety of topics, such as the role of theology in understanding and addressing gender-related issues, raising children in a culture largely hostile to traditional values, his controversial opinions on anime, and the “rule heavy” nature of western society as opposed to the more “duty” or “relational” based societies in other parts of the world.
A series of noteworthy exchanges surrounded the issue of publicly expressing the beliefs Walsh shared in variety of settings, including the classroom (both as an instructor and student), and interpersonal relationships with friends and family. Walsh advised that while it was unnecessary to actively antagonize people who disagree with you at work or in life, people should never run from the truth or espouse ideas that they didn’t agree with.
Most notably, Walsh had a prolonged exchange with a young man over the reliability of “around 30” recent medical studies that supported the use of “gender affirming care” as a treatment for gender dysphoria. Walsh contended that many of the studies were unreliable, due to the bias of the authors and researchers, as well issues with the methodology and sample sizes.
You can’t win an argument just by shouting about “studies”
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) November 18, 2022
“Why, in your movies and your discussions, do you selectively ignore and misrepresent the recent, burgeoning medical and behavioral literature that demonstrates that gender affirming care and similar medical interventions demonstrate consistent improvements to mental health, suicidality, and general well-being?” the young man asked.
“How do you think they would have large scale, long-term studies on the effects of these drugs and these surgeries on children when we only started doing it to children at a large scale a few years ago?” Walsh responded.
The questioner pushed back, encouraging listeners to search out and read the various studies, while defending their merits and the objectivity of their authors, dismissing Walsh’s claims of bias as a “conspiracy.”
“I think you can know some things without asking for permission, sometimes from professors, to say that you know them.” Walsh responded. “And one of those things that you can know is it’s never okay to castrate a child.”