Matt Walsh’s rally to end child mutilation this past weekend was a call to end gender-affirming care for minors in the state of Tennessee. The rally was a part of the Daily Wire journalist’s war against child abuse and followed his September expose of Vanderbilt Medical Center, which admitted to performing “affirmation” surgeries on children as young as sixteen. Speaking at the event alongside Walsh and a handful of Tennessee lawmakers were evolutionary biologist Colin Wright, former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), and outspoken detransitioner Chloe Cole. This writer was not there to hear the speeches, but rather to survey the rally and its opposition.
The contrast between the rally-goers and the counter-protesters was stark. I could describe the differences in many ways, but the clearest difference was that the rally-goers were procreators. Those who came to disrupt it were not.
A faithful and fertile crowd showed up to support Walsh. Most of his supporters were local families; if not families, then couples; and if not couples, then high school and college students. The Daily Wire put the number of attendees at three thousand. They listened intently to the speakers, cheered, and were respectful. When I asked a few of them about why they were there, most mentioned their families. Of course, the counter-protesters would say they were there to protect children, but whose children? They had none with them, and I doubt they have any at home; they’re just not the reproducing type. In fact, going through “gender affirmation” process ensures that many of them won’t have the chance to, even if they change their minds.
Nathan, a father from Alabama, came to fight for the truth that it is “impossible for a girl to become a boy.” “It’s a psychological disorder,” he told me. “And look, a lot of people have mental issues. The difference is, do you embrace it, or do you fight it? Do you rise out of it, or do you wallow in it? And I’m not shaming people for having mental disorders, but you must rise out of it.”
Some of Nashville’s cultural refugees from more liberal cities made appearances. For example, Derrick Hunter, a salesman and recent transplant (no, not that kind), had this to say about his move: “There are free states and non-free states these days and, unfortunately, I had the experience of living in California and I want to stay far away from there. Nashville is a great place to be, and it doesn’t surprise me that Nashville was the first place to have an event like this.” And as far as the counter-protesters went: “They need to learn what a résumé is and get a job.”
Even a gaggle of female Belmont students could be found in the crowd. The boldest of the group, from Columbus, Ohio, piped up and said, “It’s ungodly and heinous what we’re doing to children. I want to have children when I’m older and I want to be proactive about protecting them.”
On the flip side, there’s no better argument against adherence to modern orthodoxy than the counter-protesters themselves. There were no families or children. They looked sick. They were deliberately disfigured. They covered their faces, screamed incoherently, blared bad music, and sounded alarms. As you’ve probably heard about this group before, it was clear their goal was to silence—and if not silence, then to disrupt. Many of them reveled in the looks of disgust they received. Standing in the middle of them felt like being stranded on an island of broken toys. A bad trip. Something out of a Hieronymous Bosch painting. Though, to be fair, there was one cute girl in their group acting normal—so maybe I’m being dramatic, and not all is lost.
But for all their dysfunction, the counter-protesters did seem to know what they were doing. While the emcee prepared to announce Walsh, they formed a phalanx against the crowd of rally-goers and then, shrieking, entered into it and headed towards center stage. Once they attained their position, sentries were posted on the perimeter of the group—facing outwards, arms crossed, for some reason wearing tactical vests. There were a couple of pistols visible, tucked around paunchy bellies over low-rise jeans (you know how much we hate those). The group mostly stayed within the bounds held by the sentries and spoke to no one. I breached their wall once and immediately felt my sperm count drop. Feeling the pressure, I moved quickly along the fringe of the group, trying to understand what these people wanted, but it was too corrosive and I crossed back over the border and breathed fresh air again.
Looking out at the crowd which stood outside that shrieking and writhing mass, I felt encouraged. The internet would call this a “white pill”—a moment of temporary hope: here were families and healthy-looking men and women standing against the cowardice and tyranny of a small, loud minority. I went about my business and left the scene, wondering with morbid curiosity what the antifa types did when they weren’t screaming at the top of their lungs in public.