( Six minute read)
Pause and think about the above statement. Even to discuss its implications is fraught with dangers.
So at the outset to this post let me state that I have little appreciation of what it is like to live in a body that does not recognise its gender.
Are you a man or a woman?
To answer this question you would have been able to give a definite answer one way or the other, and would probably have appealed to your body type and biology to explain it.
Until recently, most people would have found that a simple question.
However it is turning into a highly fraught and emotive debate, due to certain chromosomal or hormonal conditions, not all individuals can be easily categorised as biologically male or female.
Why does a man feeling like a woman or visa versa mean that transitioning is a medical necessity, but feeling and defining yourself as black is shrouded in layers of deception?
The real rationale for questioning our traditional understandings of men and women has little to do with the existence of intersex people and more to do with the recent increase in the number of people who are biologically unambiguously of one sex, but identify as the opposite.
How do you decide which feelings are legitimate—and should be acted on—and which are not?
The resulting minefield of human-rights ambiguities, and questions over who is allowed to say what is bewildering.
When we reject our birth definition of who we are, life becomes complicated.
In our current cultural moment, one person is affirmed for defining themselves by how they feel, but another is told that how they feel is irrelevant. So which is it?
Is the proposed movement to self-declaration of gender making a mockery of the structure of society.?
(There’s also the question of what happens when the freedom for some to self-create comes into conflict with the right of protection for others.)
The proposal is that, rather than continue the current system, where someone requires a medical diagnosis and a two-year period of living in their acquired identity before they can legally change gender, those seeking to transition should simply be allowed to self-declare, meaning that someone born a man could declare himself to be a woman and immediately have the right to enter spaces reserved for women.
How would you like being sexually assaulted by “women with penises” or a man with a vulva, must give us pause for thought about whether this is wise.
Not to mention sport . “You can’t just proclaim yourself female and then compete against women.
There must be some standards.
People insist that self identifying is ok for some protected characteristics but not for others.
Well, that seems arbitrary.
Some of us will know and agree with people who want to redefine their “assigned” gender, or we may feel that way ourselves; yet
we don’t automatically agree that people should be able to redefine their race. Perhaps it’s vice versa.
The issue of what it means to be a human is confused.
Reality is being obscured so that race, gender, and age are all coming to be described as fluid.
Self-worship rapidly leaves us empty, so it is an error to think that gender identity—or any other identity for that matter—as
something that can be completely determined by one’s self.
In an individualist society, we prize the values of freedom, autonomy, equality and self-determination.
We believe that people should be free to pursue their own agendas, to become whomever they wish to become, provided that they
do not hurt others along the way. From this view, it is easy to see how we might want to sanction the idea that gender—one’s
experience of self as man or woman, masculine or feminine, as non-binary, or even non-sexed—as something that a person
defines for oneself.
But this is neither true of transgender identities nor of any other type of psychological or social identity.
I cannot establish an identity by myself; it must be negotiated with and validated in my relations with others.
This does not mean that I have no role in establishing my identity—it simply means that I cannot and do not do so by myself.
The point here is not that one’s personal experience is irrelevant to one’s identity—it is indeed foundational.
The point is that it is simply not sufficient. We need more than what someone says in order to establish and verify an identity.
None of this is to say that we shouldn’t believe transgender people when they claim an identity. It is simply to say that the
everyday idea that our identities are established solely through self-identification is a flawed one.
This is also not to say that transgender people have to prove themselves to others.
It is simply to say that the everyday way we verify any given claim to an identity relies not on a mere verbal statement, but also
what a person naturally and spontaneously does in everyday interaction.
Identity formation is a social and not simply an individual process.
The problem arises when we come to think that social gender replaces the category of biological sex. It doesn’t.
Gender simply refers to something different from (if not fully independent of) biological sex.
If we are going to embrace the concept of gender, we are going to have to come to terms with the fact that gender doesn’t trump
sex. And, of course, the opposite is also true: sex doesn’t trump gender.
Each has their place in the vagaries of social life, and we must work together to find out when they are relevant and when they are
But the identities that we are free to construct are our social identities.
The moment we distinguish gender from sex, we have two parallel concepts where there was once one.
To say that gender is malleable means that people can create social identities along the full range of the gender spectrum.
This use of the term “gender” should be an acceptable one.
The problem comes when people use the category of gender as a replacement for sex. When this happens, the concept of gender is
extended beyond its appropriate limits—that is, to one’s experience of ” who I am” in relation to others.
Transgender people need and deserve compassion.
They deserve the right to define themselves in terms of their experienced genders. A person who experiences discordance between
their assigned sex and their social and relational sense of gender is likely to experience suffering from that fact alone.
Such suffering is amplified by the many indignities and humiliations that such individuals face in a society that finds it difficult to
understand and accept people with transgender identities.
The result of all of this would be a radical redefinition of our words “man” and “woman”, and of the political entities those words
Rather than referring to members of biological classes, who can generally speaking be distinguished from one another by sight, the
words will now refer to subjective mental states, feelings in a person’s head, indistinguishable from one another except by self-
The current discourse which insists that a person becomes a woman the moment they declare themselves to be one.
A legal redefinition of our existing gender categories so that they reflect gender identity, instead of biological sex, would have the
consequence of overriding existing legal protections against discrimination and harassment on the basis of sex.
We don’t know to what extent anyone would seek to exploit legislation designed to allow people to self-identify as women.
The categories of “man” and “woman” effectively become meaningless.
This is not a satisfactory outcome, especially for those who strongly feel that they identify as one particular gender.
Shifting our definition of what it means to be a woman so that it no longer has any grounding in the material or social reality of
what it means to be a woman helps no one.
Should parents who allow their children to choose their own gender be considered irresponsible … or enlightened?
Should robots be allocated a gender?
All human comments appreciated no matter what gender. All like click and abuse chucked in the bin.
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