An Argument for a Liberal and Rational Approach to Transgender Rights and Inclusion

The rights and social inclusion of trans people is a heated topic right now and, as usual in our present atmosphere, the most extreme views take center stage and completely polarize the issue. On the one hand, we have extreme social conservatives and gender critical radical feminists who claim that trans identity is a delusion and that the good of society depends on opposing it at every turn. On the other, we have extreme trans activists who claim not only that trans people straightforwardly are the gender they experience themselves to be but that everyone else must be compelled to accept this, use corresponding language, and be fully inclusive of trans people in their choice of sexual partners.

The problem is that most of us are not extremely socially conservative, radically feminist, or intersectional trans activists, and our ethics do not align with any of these rationales or approaches. Nevertheless, people are pressured to take a “yes or no” position in relation to both trans rights and the scientific reality of trans identity. This essay is aimed at everyone, transgender and trans-skeptical, who consider themselves to be liberal (in the broadest sense). Such people value gender equality, racial equality, and LGBT equality alongside freedom of speech and belief and a rational, evidence-based approach to the world.

What can we make of this issue? In considering this, we have to look at what is known scientifically about trans identity, specific contentious issues around trans inclusion, and how best to handle them. The issue demands being treated reasonably and fairly, and the conflict many of us are facing is how to apply liberal principles of freedom and fairness to what is a unique dilemma.

The Science of Trans Identity

When it comes to the science of trans identity, many well-informed people argue that the biological evidence is firmly in its favor. The strongest such evidence is found in the brain, where trans people are found to have brains anatomically more similar to the gender to which they identify. The science of gender differences in the brain is well-established. These differences are most clear in gray and white matter distributions that reveal patterns associated with each gender. Studies (and here) on brain function revealed function in the brains of trans people which fell in an intermediate position between that typical of the male and female brain.

In addition to evidence in brain structure and function, trans people identifying as women were found to have a longer version of a receptor gene which reduced the effect of testosterone, and those identifying as men were found to have an allele distribution of a genotype acting on sex hormones equivalent to that of cisgendered men. Further, twin studies have supported the hypothesis that transgenderism has a genetic component.

None of this science is fully conclusive yet, and although the arrow of evidence points clearly toward a biological basis for the trans identity, the question remains partly open. The study of trans identity is relatively new, the number of studies are small and so too, often, are sample sizes. Other studies (and here) have questioned these findings, and it has been suggested that the close correlation between trans identity and homosexuality in some studies indicate that the results could pertain to sexuality rather than gender identity. Nevertheless, the ever-growing number of studies supporting a biological basis for trans identity should be taken seriously by both trans activists and rationalists inclined to be skeptical.

Trans activists therefore would do well not to reject the science (NB: not Theory) of gender difference, which seems likely to come down in their favor in the not-too-distant future. Yet many align themselves with intersectional feminist approaches to activism, and thus have taken on cultural constructivist views of gender which deny biological gender differences in the name of gender equality. In all likelihood, then, their preferred approach to activism is a kind of shooting themselves in the foot. Similarly, those who consider themselves rationalists and are inclined to be skeptical of trans identity because it is so often associated with silly and demonstrably false claims about the culturally constructed nature of gender would do well not to dismiss it too hastily if they pride themselves on valuing science.

We now turn to addressing a few relevant claims being made regarding trans issues.

Issues and responses surrounding Trans Identity

Claim: To support a trans person’s identity is to enable them in a delusion that can only lead to unhappiness. A person’s gender is determined by their genitals and nothing will change that. It’s much kinder to insist they come to terms with that. 

First of all, you do not know that trans identity is a delusion. Nobody does. At the most, you can only think that there is insufficient evidence to think it is real. If you insist that gender is entirely determined by the biological sex of a person’s gonads, you necessarily dismiss the neuroscientific and endocrinal evidence that gender differences exist. In this case, we can only ask that you consider leaving individual trans people alone and making your arguments less ideologically and more generally upon universal principles of human rights and dignity.

Claim: But it is for their own good! Look at how many trans people commit suicide after transitioning. And what about the people who change their mind after transitioning? I don’t want to be complicit in that.

There are strong arguments that the higher rate of suicide among trans people has more to do with prejudice and a lack of acceptance rather than a feeling that transitioning was unhelpful. If you care about it, you can best help reduce this problem by being kind and accepting or alternatively, simply leaving trans people alone to pursue their own happiness in their own ways. Although most cases of childhood dysphoria resolve on their own, less than 5% of adults who transition regret the decision.  

With regard to this common line of argument in general, the very idea of saving people from themselves and banning things to protect people from themselves is profoundly illiberal. If you are concerned that trans people might not be aware of post-transition suicide and changes-of-mind, you could always look into the information people considering transitioning receive and campaign to make sure it includes this if it currently does not. Ultimately, in a liberal society, we provide education and information and leave people to make their own decisions, take their own risks, and handle their own consequences.

Claim: But I don’t want to pay for people’s transitioning operations and hormones when I don’t believe they should transition at all.

This is a separate argument which has much in common with not wanting to pay for other people’s birth control or for obesity or smoking-related illnesses. You can certainly make arguments that nationalized healthcare should only cover unavoidable illnesses or argue against nationalized healthcare generally. This is a separate issue though and should not affect how you engage with trans people.

Claim: If we accept that trans women are “really” women even if they have penises, then there will be penises in women’s changing rooms/restrooms. Women shouldn’t have to see that, particularly young girls.

This is a valid concern and one that requires practical solutions on the part of the changing rooms owners, which could include providing private stalls. Where this is not practical, it will be down to trans women with penises to refrain from displaying them. There is not yet any evidence that trans women are going into changing rooms and waving their penises around, and the vast majority would rather not do any such thing.

However, there is a troubling attitude among some trans activists which regards any fear or concern about this point as transphobia which needs discovering and “calling out,” so it is not beyond the realm of possibility that this could happen. Trans activists, please do not encourage this to happen. It can only alienate people from your cause of increasing acceptance of trans people and instead increase hostility and fear of what is probably the most marginalized group in society.

Claim: That doesn’t solve the problem because women shouldn’t have to see (what I consider to be) men in their private spaces at all. This can be frightening, especially if a woman is a survivor of male violence.

The trouble is that this problem doesn’t go away whatever rules are made around bathrooms and trans people. If it was decided that individuals must use the bathroom corresponding to the genitalia they were born with, women inclined to be fearful of men will be spared an encounter with this individual:

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And instead encounter this one:  

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The problem then becomes one, not of whether or not someone is trans but whether they “pass.” Who would police that? How could it be done? Would there need to be a license? How and when should it be checked? Would women with more typically masculine features need to use men’s bathrooms? There have already been a few reports of over-zealous security guards manhandling women they have mistaken for men out of women’s bathrooms. Lesbians who favor a “butch” or androgynous appearance would be particularly vulnerable.

Claim: But what about men who are actually predators pretending to be women to gain access to women’s restrooms in order to victimize women?

This also is a valid concern, as such predators exist. The issue is that literally nothing stops them from cross-dressing well enough to “pass” and doing the same thing now. The validity buried in this concern is therefore that trans bathroom activism will result in normalizing circumstances that could more easily mask potential predatory behavior. The result will be a general increase in concern and discomfort for many women surrounding an everyday and necessary behavior: going to the bathroom. Trans activists simply need to acknowledge the validity of this concern and should ideally also engage in activism that helps minimize its impact.

Ultimately, this is a truly difficult issue. Hysteria needs to die down on both sides, and, though unsavory to many trans activists, this could be best achieved by trans people choosing bathrooms most suitable for the gender they are commonly perceived to be and everybody else accepting that trans people just need to pee. Although radical feminists have argued that trans women commit violent crime at the same rate as men and so should not be permitted to use women’s bathrooms, there are no reports of trans women attacking anyone in bathrooms. It is also unclear that people who are willing to commit the serious crime of sexual assault will be afraid to disregard a bathroom sign.   

Claim: Trans women have an unfair advantage in sporting events.

This concern is likewise hard to dismiss. Even if trans women are taking hormone treatments to reduce their testosterone, they are still likely to have greater height, bone density, and muscularity than cis women, and to have benefited from what amount to endogenous performance-enhancing drugs for many years before transitioning. Whilst this is not an advantage for every sport and will not be true of every individual, biological differences between trans women and cis women do exist and complicate competitive sports divided into sex categories. Until sports scientists find a way to accurately measure physical advantages and disadvantages for trans people (and there is much disagreement), it seems likely that trans men and women will need athletic categories of their own lest women’s sports particularly suffer the consequences.

This potential solution is usually badly received by trans activists who argue that this is a hurtful and damaging failure to accept trans men and women as men and women. However, biological inequality is not something that can always be completely solved by social means. If it could, men could live as long as women and be required to carry half the babies. We can only work around such differences as best we can using liberal ethics of inclusiveness which also accept biological realities.

Claim: Trans women are vulnerable in men’s prisons and a danger to other women in women’s prisons.

This again is a genuine concern and again probably calls for unique measures. There have been accounts of trans women being brutally raped in men’s prisons and of trans women convicted of rape then sexually harassing women in women’s prisons. As much as some trans activists would like us to acknowledge no differences at all between trans and cis people, and as much as some trans-skeptics would like us to see trans women simply as men requiring no special consideration on the grounds of gender, there are some situations in which the only way to treat trans people fairly is to consider their rights and opportunities in a class of their own.

Claim: Trans people place an unreasonable burden on the military and divert funds necessary for the safety of our country.

This is not an issue that calls for unique measures. The military is well-prepared for evaluating psychological and physiological fitness and needs among its personnel and to fittingly assigning them to duties and roles in accordance with those needs and capabilities. Your political opinions against trans service are therefore unlikely to help anything. Trans people might well be in need of more medical support than average but some require none at all. They must be evaluated to the same high standards as everyone else, and, if surgeries and medication are required and are likely to make them unfit to serve or require a great deal of leave, the same rules should apply as to anyone else with any medical needs. The costs are negligible in relation to other more common medical requirements, including erectile dysfunction. The military knows what it is doing here, and there can be neither discrimination nor particular accommodation.

Claim: Trans women are men appropriating women’s very identity – it’s “womanface” and every bit as offensive as “blackface.”

Don’t be so ridiculous. There is no reason for anyone who is not an identity-politician to take this argument seriously. Nothing is taken from women if some people who were born with penises also identify as women. You must have the right to reject any science which supports this gender identity and to refuse to acknowledge trans women as women and trans men as men but not to insist that everybody else does too.

Claim: Trans people who “pass” worry me because I cannot be sure that I will not end up in bed with someone who has or once had genitalia that I am not attracted to.

This problem is one that only trans people can resolve by honesty and openness, but unfortunately some are ideologically motivated to do precisely the opposite. Some trans activists have claimed that it is transphobic to care what genitalia your partner has or once had if you were attracted to them before you knew this.

gender studies.jpg
via @SeanMcGann98
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via @SeanMcGann98

This is dangerous, illiberal nonsense reminiscent of the most intrusive forms of conversion therapy. People do not have to justify not being attracted to any set of genitalia or not being attracted to trans people. No-one has to justify their attractions at all. It is unethical to deceive a potential romantic or sexual partner in this way. This can only serve to increase hostility and suspicion of transgender people. Trans women who are not honest and open with partners and only reveal that they are trans when sexual activity begins put themselves at risk of rude or hurtful comments and rejection, and even of violence (which is unjustifiable and must be prosecuted). Those cis people who are not attracted to trans people can help make this easier by preparing themselves mentally for finding out that someone they have been flirting with is trans and withdrawing themselves from the flirtation graciously and kindly.

Claim: Children and teenagers are receiving surgery and taking hormones which permanently alter their bodies even though most childhood gender dysphoria resolves on its own.

This is the most serious issue. Unfortunately, puberty has to happen way before the age of consent, which means that for optimal results in transitioning, medical interventions have to start way before the person in question can be sure of what they’re getting into. It is significant that some studies have found that gender identity and sexual orientation are almost perfectly confounded in teenagers who do not yet possess the mature brain or the experience necessary to distinguish between these. There are serious ethical problems with having this decision made for them by well-meaning adults. Given that most cases of gender dysphoria in children resolve after puberty, often with the realisation that the child is gay or lesbian, transitioning children is difficult to justify ethically.

This is hard to accept for many trans people who know how much more successful transitioning is when undertaken before puberty and that a trans person’s happiness and future can depend on that procedure being successful. Still, this cannot justify permanently damaging the bodies of children whose gender dysphoria will resolve on its own. They cannot be trans “collateral damage” even for a very good cause. This again is another reason that trans activists should support science rather than trying to promote complicated and unevidenced cultural constructivist arguments about gender. Whilst it is liberal to present adults with all the information and allow them to make their own decisions, some confirming evidence of transgenderism in addition to immature perceptions would be necessary for it to become ethical to transition children and teenagers. With science making great strides in identifying brain differences and genetic indications, this could be possible in the near future. It would be wise to support that work, fund it, and campaign for more of it.

Summary.

These cases represent relatively visible exceptions from the normal situation in which trans people can simply go about their business without anyone needing to worry about what genitals they were born with or whether or not they spent their teenage years producing strongly androgenic performance-enhancing substances. They can be managed without anyone needing to come down in favor of or in opposition to trans identity.

The Liberal Conflict of Freedom and Fairness.

If you still feel that it’s important to keep opposing trans identity, we’ll leave you here. We respect your right to state your view and will oppose any attempt to silence you or force you to use terms you don’t believe are valid. We’d hope that you, in return, would limit your objections to your own spaces and general conversation and not harass trans people going about their own business. We think most of you will.

If, on the other hand, like most liberals we speak to, you neither blindly accept that every trans person is deluded nor feel it is absolutely necessary to oppose their acceptance and to contradict their identity at every opportunity, there is another option that is liberal and rational and it is very simple.

Liberal ethics are generally rooted in freedom and fairness and in extending this liberty to everyone by removing barriers that hinder success and interfere in other people’s lives. That is, liberal ethics seek to restrict individuals as little as possible. Trans people being trans and going about their business is not a problem for most people, and it bears little relevance here. Whenever we speak to liberals who value equality and freedom generally, they are rarely concerned about encountering a trans person minding his or her own business. They are concerned that trans activists are going to get into theirs.

This concern is not unjustified. Although trans activists often complain that Gender-Critical Radical Feminists (whom they refer to as TERFs – the TE stands for “Trans-Exclusionary”) contribute to hostility towards trans people, it is almost unheard of for a liberal to say they became antagonistic towards trans issues after encountering a radical feminist. There are, however, very many who cite exchanges with trans activists as justification for being so. The problem comes down to two main complaints – authoritarianism and pretentious ideologizing. 

The former complaint about trans activists stems from excessive language policing and attempts to force people to use certain pronouns and gender neutral terms. The controversy surrounding Jordan Peterson’s objection to nonstandard gender pronouns highlighted this issue among those concerned by the authoritarianism of Social Justice Activism movements more generally. One need not agree with Peterson on anything else to share his concern about this topic. Gender-critical feminists including Julie Bindel, Germaine Greer and Sarah Ditum have also been no-platformed and vilified for their views on trans identity, and these feminists frequently receive violent threats and death-wishes. Clearly, we needn’t agree with them either to condemn such illiberal behaviors.

In the present climate, even those of us who support trans identity are likely to come under fire for alleged misuse of language, which is a desperate problem given the inherent complexity of the situation it attempts to describe. It is common for people typing the words “both genders” or “pregnant women” on Twitter to be confronted by a trans activist (or bot) and accused of transphobia. The Vagina Monologues and the wearing of pussy hats at The Women’s March, for instance, have also been targeted as transphobic by activists. It is difficult to address the issue at all online without incurring the wrath of a trans activist. The most important thing to say about this atmosphere of hostility is that it does not endear people to the trans movement.

Equally difficult for many to deal with is the complicated pretentiousness of some trans activists who assert the existence of as many as 114 genders, an almost as long list of gender pronouns, and the existence of gender fluidity in which these can change from day-to-day and even from hour to hour. This situation is nearly impossible to navigate, and it is a problem uniquely placed upon the natural allies, not enemies, of activists embracing it. Enemies merely make fun of this. On the other hand, it requires the supportive ally to ask and then remember how the genderfluid individual would like to be addressed before almost every conversation and to constantly expect missteps and offense. This situation is frankly chilling to engagement, which further alienates those that activism is meant to help. Rather than coming off as a legitimate attempt to help legitimate problems, then, this form of gender activism appears to many like an unappealing combination of ideologizing and attention-seeking and raises the question of whether everybody who says they are trans is sincere or correct. It seems likely that some people have jumped on the train due to an ideological commitment to gender non-conformity and many trans people themselves have complained of this and coined the term “transtrender” to describe it. 

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Screen Shot 2017-09-26 at 7.43.27 PM.pngThis wary, skeptical reaction to someone with a complicated understanding of their own gender might seem unsympathetic to someone who is struggling with their gender identity and trying to feel comfortable in it. Trans activists will argue that their comfort as a person experiencing struggle (and “oppression”) outweighs that of the cisgendered individual having to hear about it and to make efforts to comply. However, there is an unfortunate tendency for the authoritarian and the pretentious ideologizing aspects of trans activism to come as a package, and thus even the most sympathetic potential ally will often be wary of engaging with trans activists who take this attitude. Who does this hurt most? Trans people, of course, especially those who don’t want to politicize their identity and don’t want to be constantly identified as “trans” or talk about their gender identity but would rather just be known by their name and treated like anyone else.

The Solution

The solution to this is relatively simple from a liberal perspective: Let adults do what they want (also deal with practical issues as well as possible as they arise and let emerging science inform decisions we make as we come to know more).

For trans activists, this requires accepting that they cannot dictate the language that other people use, the beliefs they have about gender, or who they have sex with. These attitudes can be painful for trans people, but other marginalized identities slowly gained acceptance, and the world seems ready to do that with trans people, though less fast and to a lesser degree than trans activists would want. It is true, whether trans is innate or otherwise (and more so if it’s innate), that trans people face a harder-than-average lot with things. They are statistically rare, and they challenge largely bedrock notions of sex and gender for most people. Their dating options will be more limited than average. Some people will remain uncomfortable with them, almost certainly, merely because of who they are. It sucks, and we can care and help—and we can encourage people to grow up around them and offer counselling to manage remaining pettiness—but ultimately, being trans is harder than not being trans, and it is not going to be made easier by “progressive” attempts to bully people.

For anti-trans people, this requires accepting that trans identity is none of their business. If the problem is authoritarianism or pretentious ideologizing rather than gender identity, authoritarianism and pretentious ideologizing are the grounds for avoiding or criticizing an individual rather than their gender identity. The problem with authoritarians and gender ideologues expands way beyond the gender identity issue and is rife within both the SocJus left and far right generally. Reasonable people manage to be critical of intersectional feminism, however, without being hostile to women and of critical race theory without antagonism towards non-white people. It may seem as though the Venn diagram which would show trans people and trans activists is almost a single circle but this is largely wrong because most trans people aren’t activists. They simply want to identify as their gender and not draw attention to the fact that it is also trans.

A liberal attitude on the part of trans people requires accepting that other people may or may not support your gender identity. If you are discriminated against or intimidated, you should be able to expect protection from a liberal society. Of course, reasonable activism to ensure this protection can be engaged in and supported by liberals generally. A liberal attitude towards trans people is the same as a liberal attitude towards everyone else: treat them as individuals. If they turn out to be pretentious, authoritarian ideologues, they can be responded to as such perfectly reasonably and ethically. If they turn out not to be any of that, there is no justification for negative generalizations and collective blame.

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30 comments

  1. Wandering through your site. Great conclusions of your article. Gender intolerance seems to mirror religious intolerance. Each to their own.

    Urologists come from that science-based view of gender. I have to be careful since the words and meanings I medically subscribe to may not be the same as the ones the rest of the audience uses. The Society for Sexual Medicine was founded in 1978 and has published the Journal of Sexual Medicine for many years. It has always been an interesting melting pot between the views of the psychologists and those of the clinical practicing doctors.

    Much of what we have discussed for many years regarding DIsorders of Sexual Differentiation (DSD), sexual ambiguity in a phenotypic and self identified sense, and categorization using DSM methodology of gender dysphoria have entered public discourse. So too it has entered academia. Like many debates those of the academic world seem pretty thin regarding on the ground experience with actually managing those who have DSD or GD. It is a mine-field of ideas.

    An adult has a right to self-identify in any manner they wish. Often self-identifying on multiple dimensions. Questions begin to be asked at which point does medicalization of thought start and stop and when do societal norms take over. The history of medicalization of homosexuality and sexual orientation provides a useful and instructive parallel. This was included as a psychologic disorder in DSM 2 and DSM 3 before being dropped and “demedicalized” in DSM 3-R. Perhaps this is a path those with GD seek?

    A second question arises as to the responsibility of the medical community to use drugs to maintain a transition. As an adult you can choose how you want to poison your body. Adolescents……I am not so sure. It has been acknowledged the adolescent brain is a hormonal mess, prone to errors in judgement. Most mainstream neuroscientists suggest complete formation takes until 21-23. The data on GD suggests a fluidity of affiliation in the teenage population, much like the fluidity of gender orientation. Testosterone, its presence or absence, has profound impact on genetic expression. It is a powerful hormone that sits at the heart of mammalian sexual differentiation. The largest cumulative experience we have with testosterones impact is amongst prostate cancer patients. Tens of thousands of men are started on hormone suppression every year with chemical castration, and have been since the late 1980’s. This group has given us insight into the physiologic, psychologic and other impacts of hormonal suppression.

    Perhaps we would do well to look to our past of how to manage these issues. Throughout the Austronesian speaking world, from Tahiti, to Samoa, to Indonesia and Thailand gender fluidity is an accepted component of society. Typically gender surgery and hormonal manipulation have not been required. Instead an acceptance of letting those pass as they are has been paramount.

    1. There are hideous criminals in any sufficiently large group. Transgender people included. This fact does not invalidate any group. Or are you of the same crowd that will cry “Muslims out” pointing to terrorists?

  2. I enjoyed reading what was a thoughtful addition to an increasingly bizarre and acrimonious debate on this sensitive issue. It was extremely necessary and I thank the authors for writing it. However, I did feel that the piece had a few issues. Firstly, the first criticism of “trans skeptics” misses the point. Trans skeptics are not saying that “your gender is what it is between your legs” (and many reject the idea of gender). What they are saying is “you cannot change your sex”, which is a scientific fact. All of us are male and female (with the exception of intersex people) and there is nothing we can do about it. That does not include having a penis or vagina but also our chromosomes and hormones (although hormone levels can vary within sexes).

    Secondly, it also mentions trans skeptics’ critiquing this gender identity stuff as a “delusion” and that “we do not know that.” Perhaps, delusion is the wrong word but do we know it and this where the article sort of falls down. Gender dysphoria is a psychological condition whereby someone genuinely has mental distress from their sex and wish they changed it. That is technically a “delusion” just as someone with anorexia who has a delusion when they believe themselves to be fat when they are in fact thin. That is something that proved by science and reason but the treatment for gender dysphoria is transitioning. It may be that there is a biological basis for gender dysphoria (although the sexed brain studies have a very small sample, it may be attributable to abnormal hormonal levels but the jury is still out). This is why now politically incorrect term “transsexual” had some accuracy to it.

    Thirdly, what the piece fails to oroperly acknowledge is the difference between gender dysphoria and wider gender identity politics. There is a scientific and rational basis for one. There is not one for the other. The dogma of gender identity politics (which a lot of the trans lobby propound) should be criticised by anyone who believes in reason and fact. It argues that a man is anyone who identifies as a man and a woman is anyone who identifies as a woman. Aside from being factually incorrect, it is a complete logical fallacy. Worse still, proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act will enshrine that in law whereas currently the GRA has a medicalised approach based on the existence of gender dysphoria (backed up by sex-safeguards in the Equality Act). So we have gone from understanding transgenderism through a scientific lens based on reason to one that it is based on an unprovable, subjective individual feeling of self. The fact that the majority of transwomen in the UK still have penises (and penises cannot be female by any definiton, sorry) is a sign of that shift away from the scientific and reasonable to the subjective. This is what I feel this article tries but fails to grasp.

  3. Oh, also some people actually ARE genderfluid, nonbinary, whatever, and this actually falls under your “let adults do what they want”. Yes, it’s probably not a great idea for such people (in fact I am that, to a degree) o try and bludgeon others into using all sorts of tricky pronouns and what not. But protecting their (or “our”) freedom of expression is still quite liberal – and actually protects cis women, too.

    Look up the Jespersen case. It shows that protection from sex discrimination, in itself, does not protect from allegedly “separate but equal” burdens placed on men and women, for example, high heels AND a three-piece suit. But there are some cis women who just hate wearing high heels anyway! So what can they turn to? Gender identity and gender expresion protection, I say! If men (or people legally classed as men) can not be prohibited from wearing high heels, then women (or people legally classed as women) also can not be prohibited from NOT wearing them.

  4. I agree with about 90% of the article. I think some things lack nuance as stated, possibly because of limitations of space. Notably, the complicated matter of experimental (sic) treatment of children is treated very broadly. For exampole, the possibility of social-only transition is not considered, and nor are the recent attempts to find the border between GNC and dysphoric children.

    None of this is anywhere close to perfection and can I understand a call to err on the side of caution. But this is “experimental and questionable”, not the kind of monster stuff opponents make it out to be. Medical professionals are still working out optimal solutions and vilifying any side does not help. Most other parts of the article have much more balanced statements than the language of “unjustified damaging” used in this part.

    Another issue (caused by space or time constraints?) is that in the discussion of sexual intimacy. the issue of genitals one “once had” is included and then not discussed. But while genital preference for the present configuration is a valid thing, what has “once had” to do with anything, except in the kind of relationship where having children is seriously considered?

    I was obese and lost 25 kg this year. Many people are not attracted to obese people. Would it be deceptive for me not to tell someone that I have been obese? How is this different from someone who once had a penis?

  5. jose: “I don’t understand why so much emphasis is placed on ideas of identity instead of objective, external criteria.”

    How about “because it is now the law of the land and the basis of the institution of marriage”? Did you read Obergefell v Hodges, which stipulated a right to choice in intimate identity and beliefs and then defined marriage based on that right? This solution neatly sidestepped the entire parenting debate, the entire orientation/nature/nurture debate, and also sounds very classical liberal to me (and I like it a lot and it changed my mind on the marriage issue). But it also makes intimate identity in general a legal thing.

  6. Okay, I want to credit you with, well, with anything. But I’m having a very difficult time.

    Part of this is because you don’t seem to actually know (or at least don’t seem to consistently make use of) distinctions between gender and sex (which you sometimes frame as “biological gender”), but there are bigger issues of ignorance at play.

    In particular, examine this statement:

    many [trans activists] align themselves with intersectional feminist approaches to activism, and thus have taken on cultural constructivist views of gender which deny biological gender differences in the name of gender equality.[/blockquote]

    Now, if you actually know the difference between biology and sociology and are using “biological gender differences” to mean actual differences in biology, then I can’t see how this isn’t a straight up lie.

    Transsexual people seek sex-related medical care. If we denied that biological gender differences exist, how could we possibly be transsexual?

    So maybe you meant, “behavioral differences that fall along lines of biological gender”, but here you would be displaying colossal ignorance: what are gender liberation movements if not critiques of differing standards of behavior for people of different genders and the resulting differences in actual behavior thus socially imposed?

    If you meant something like that, and asserted that this is something that (some) trans* people deny exist, you’d be asserting that there exists gender criticism that doesn’t recognize any gender differences. What the Freud?

    Of course, you might have meant some other thing, but that only leads to the question, if you meant some other thing, why didn’t you say that other thing?

    The conclusions available then, are:
    1. You meant one of two completely nonsensical statements, which calls into question your education and understanding on this issue and whether it is remotely sufficient to craft anything useful to the general public, or

    2. You meant something completely different, and fully acknowledge that both of these two statements are nonsensical, but since the first is the only reasonable reading of your actual words and the second is the only reasonable alternative that retains anything close to the original meaning and assumes the least possible amount of error in your writing, then your readers must question whether you’re capable of crafting writing that comes anywhere close to your intended meaning. And if you can’t do that, then no matter your education on or understanding of a topic, your writing on a topic is going to be worthless since we can’t tell from what you’ve written what you actually mean or advocate.

    Honestly, such amazingly basic errors don’t reflect well on this piece, and in fact reflect so badly that some of that bad light is giving an image of you two authors as not competent – at the very least on this issue, and possibly on writing more generally.

    Look, I want to credit you with something positive, I really do, but how do I do that given what you’ve actually written?

    Do you have any explanation at all for the statement you’ve written that doesn’t lead to the conclusion that you’re grossly ill prepared on the topic and/or grossly negligent in your writing?

    If that explanation exists, I’d love to hear it.

    In the meantime, I’ll be writing more in critique of this article at my blog, Pervert Justice, at FreethoughtBlogs. That writing is too long for a comment, but feel free to read me there if you feel so inclined.

  7. What is lost when a teenager transitions even though their dysphoria might have resolved on its own? I’m shocked that the article calls their bodies “damaged”. Implicit in that argument is the idea that we should “conserve cisness” and not transition people unless absolutely necessary. That’s a completely unjustified value judgement.

    Also, maybe Jones has made some other tweet that is more radical, but in what you quoted I don’t see her (or anyone else) arguing that it’s okay to deceive partners about being trans. If you want to know my thinking on the matter, yes, I think accepting trans people as potential sexual partners is objectively better than not accepting them, and people should indeed be encouraged to work through their irrational phobia of dicks. It’s the demonisation and deception that I oppose.

  8. Agreed that forcing people to adjust and be considerate of transgender does not work and only leads to resentment and resistance. This can be overcome gradually through education and governing laws. However, the statement “… attitude on the part of trans people requires accepting that other people may or may not support your gender identity.” is the major fault with your total theory.

    Adoption of this would create major problems for trans-people. It is fine for to quote “If you are discriminated against or intimidated, you should be able to expect protection …”. However, part of enabling acceptance of and supporting non-acceptance of your gender identity is to also accept that you will be discriminated against. And to also accept that you will be isolated, victimised, threatened with violence and have violence committed against you. In accepting this behaviour yourself, you also giving society permission to accept this as well.

    If I had put a similar theory forward for non-whites or non-Christians, rightfully, there would be major concerns raised about my ethics and humanity. If I accepted as being treated as the incorrect gender, and as a male put this theory forward this theory for the treatment of females, and society accepted it, women’s rights would be driven back to the turn of the twentieth century. Anyone who has the basic understanding of how human nature works would know this theory if put into practice would maintain the status-quo for people who are intolerant towards trans-people.

    The question now arises of the morality of the authors? Was this put forward merely as a cover by the authors for the continued subjugation and killing of transmen and transwomen worldwide.

  9. From the actual experts in child and adolescent transgender people, Melbourne’s Royal Children Hospital:

    ” A large population-based study undertaken in New Zealand in 2012 estimated that approximately 1.2% of adolescents identify as transgender and it is therefore likely that referrals to healthcare professionals will continue to rise in the foreseeable future.

    Being trans or gender diverse is now largely viewed as part of the natural spectrum of human diversity. It is, however, frequently accompanied by significant gender dysphoria (GD), which is characterised by the distress that arises from incongruence between a person’s gender identity and their sex assigned at birth. It is well recognised that trans and gender diverse individuals are at increased risk of harm because of discrimination, social exclusion, bullying, physical assault and even homicide.

    Serious psychiatric morbidity is seen in children and adolescents. A study of the mental health of trans young people living in Australia found very high rates of ever being diagnosed with depression (74.6%), anxiety (72.2%), post-traumatic stress disorder (25.1%), a personality disorder (20.1%), psychosis (16.2%) or an eating disorder (22.7%). Furthermore 79.7% reported ever self-harming and 48.1% ever attempting suicide.

    —————–
    Increasing evidence demonstrates that with supportive, gender affirming care
    during childhood and adolescence, harms can be ameliorated and mental health and wellbeing outcomes can be significantly improved.
    ——————

    “Social transition can reduce a child’s distress and improve their emotional functioning.

    ***Evidence suggests that trans children who have socially transitioned demonstrate rates of depression, anxiety and self-worth comparable to their cisgender peers.

    The number of children in Australia who later socially transition back to their gender assigned at birth is not known, but anecdotally appears to be low and no current evidence of harm in doing so exists”

    ——————
    “The optimal model of care for trans and gender diverse adolescents who present to
    services involves a coordinated, multidisciplinary team approach.
    This may include clinicians with expertise in the disciplines of child and adolescent psychiatry, paediatrics, adolescent medicine, paediatric endocrinology, clinical psychology, gynaecology, andrology, fertility services, speech therapy, general practice and nursing”

    “Adolescents often encounter resistance from their parents and other family members
    when their trans or gender diverse identity is first disclosed during adolescence.
    They have often spent months or even years developing an understanding and acceptance of themselves and their gender identity and have thoroughly considered how to inform their families over a long period of time. At the time of disclosure however, parents may perceive the change as being sudden and have little time to adjust before their adolescent is requiring their support and expressing a desire for intervention. ”

    “Puberty suppression involves medication which suppresses the endogenous oestrogen and testosterone responsible for induction of secondary sexual characteristics.
    In Australia, gonadotrophin releasing hormone analogues (GnRHa) are available in
    subcutaneous and intramuscular injectable preparations. Puberty suppression typically
    relieves distress for trans adolescents by halting progression of physical changes such
    as breast growth in trans males and voice deepening in trans females , and is
    reversible in its effects.”

    “Current Australian law dictates that puberty suppression with GnRHa can be
    commenced without Court involvement when the adolescent’s legal guardians provide
    consent. Should there be disagreement between the adolescent, their legal guardians
    and the medical team, the decision regarding commencement of puberty suppression
    medication should be referred to the Family Court of Australia”

    “Stage 2 treatment
    Gender affirming hormones oestrogen and testosterone are used to either feminise or masculinise a person’s appearance by inducing onset of secondary sexual characteristics of the desired gender.
    Some of the effects of these medications are irreversible, whilst others have a degree of expected reversibility that is likely, unlikely or unknown (see tables below). As mentioned previously, Family Court approval for commencement of these medications is required in Australia for any adolescent under the age of 18 years”

    “Criteria for adolescents to commence puberty
    suppression:
    1. A diagnosis of Gender Dysphoria in Adolescence, made by a psychiatrist or a clinical
    psychologist with expertise in child and adolescent development, psychopathology
    and experience working with children and adolescents with gender dysphoria.
    Although mental health clinicians of many professional disciplines are important in
    the assessment and ongoing management of adolescents with gender dysphoria, the
    existing medicolegal structure for medical transition in Australia requires at least
    one psychiatrist or clinical psychologist to confirm a diagnosis of Gender Dysphoria
    in Adolescence prior to medical intervention.
    2. Medical assessment including fertility preservation counselling has been completed
    by a general practitioner, paediatrician, adolescent physician or endocrinologist. This
    assessment should include further fertility preservation counselling by a gynaecologist
    and/or andrologist when required with referral for fertility preservation intervention
    when requested (sperm cryopreservation, testicular biopsy).
    3. Tanner stage 2 pubertal status has been achieved. This can be confirmed via clinical
    examination with presence of breast buds or increased testicular volume (>4 mL)
    and elevation of luteinising hormone to >0.5 IU/L.
    4. The treating team should agree that commencement of puberty suppression is in
    the best interest of the adolescent and assent from the adolescent and informed
    consent from their legal guardians has been obtained.”

    “Criteria for adolescents to commence gender affirming hormone treatment using oestrogen or testosterone:
    1.A diagnosis of Gender Dysphoria in Adolescence, made by a psychiatrist or a clinical
    psychologist with expertise in child and adolescent development, psychopathology
    and experience working with children and adolescents with gender dysphoria.
    Although mental health clinicians of many professional disciplines are important in
    the assessment and ongoing management of adolescents with gender dysphoria, the
    existing medicolegal structure for medical transition in Australia requires at least
    one psychiatrist or clinical psychologist to confirm a diagnosis of Gender Dysphoria
    in Adolescence prior to medical intervention.
    2. Medical assessment including fertility preservation counselling has been completed
    by a general practitioner, paediatrician, adolescent physician or endocrinologist. This
    assessment should include further fertility preservation counselling by a gynaecologist
    and/or andrologist when required with referral for fertility preservation intervention
    when requested (sperm cryopreservation, testicular biopsy).”

    “Genital surgery performed before the age of 18 years remains a relatively uncommon
    practice internationally.”*

    https://www.rch.org.au/uploadedFiles/Main/Content/adolescent-medicine/Australian%20Standards%20of%20Care%20and%20Treatment%20Guidelines%20for%20Trans%20and%20Gender%20Diverse%20Children%20and%20Adolescents.pdf

  10. As other commenters have pointed out, a lot of the common knowledge among what I suppose we can call ‘classical liberals’ regarding transitioning children isn’t actually true. So-called “gender non-conforming” children tend to grow out of it, but that’s not exactly the same as transsexuality, and I kind of fear that this kind of misrepresentation fundamentally infringes on the bodily autonomy of adolescents.

    We put this artificial divide between adults and children, where on one side you’re totally free and on the other you’re closely protected from doing anything that might have consequences. Maybe it’s no wonder that people in their twenties act immature and fragile and say things like “adulting is hard”. Just in general, including on other issues, I think we need to be more nuanced in how we regard teenagers.

  11. Speaker To Animals.
    No they do NOT support the ‘they are all really gay’ hypothesis one little bit.

    Noting that changes do happen as trans people age, such as typically it takes a bit longer for a person to realise they are bisexual…and some even change from their past, pre transition sexual orientation to the opposite one….

    For trans women adults the numbers show about a third each are female attracted, male attracted and bisexual. As usual those being bisexual cover a spectrum.
    Take myself, bisexual before transition, still bisexual, and still about 80% female attracted and 20% male attracted.

    That myth all comes from the old 1970s Rekers, Money, Green, etc ‘sissy boy’ studies where being GNC meant you were ‘pre homosexual’…and thus had to be given conversion therapy as a kid to ‘straighten’ them.

    The reality is being GNC* as a kid is only loosely correlated with being LGB…and the very different gender dysphoria has a poor correlation as well. It is a lot more complicated than that.

    *Whatever that means….

  12. Posting this here because you blocked me on Facebook, Helen. Let me be very clear here, Helen. I agree with your article almost entirely and without reservation. That is, I agree with it to the extent that it focuses on gender dysphoria, medically transitioning transgender people. However, your argument does not apply to those trans who do not make any claims to any inner “gender realness”, who are trans solely out of a political motivation to destabilize the sex/gender regime for a radical transformation of society. No, those particular trans are different. They are not born that way. They are involved in an ideological struggle, and as such, they can be challenged on ideological grounds.

  13. This is a very long essay, so for now I comment only on some science and issues.

    My prediction is that “the close correlation between trans identity and homosexuality in some studies” will eventually demonstrate that being gay is a way of being trans, and is not a separate phenomenon. I think it’s likely that the phenomena that produce a gay drag queen, and a trans female, are going to be very similar. Later you note “gender identity and sexual orientation are almost perfectly confounded in teenagers”. I think this is because these are two aspects of the same phenomenon.

    Regarding change rooms and bathrooms, you say “This is a valid concern and one that requires practical solutions on the part of the changing rooms owners, which could include providing private stalls. Where this is not practical, it will be down to trans women with penises to refrain from displaying them”. But this is NOT a valid concern (and is demeaning) unless you regard the sight of penises as harmful, perhaps by some magic. The real solution here is to desegregate these facilities, so we can get over the idea that these are places of danger. Nobody ever cares whether the little boys will see a vulva. It’s all about how scary penises are. It’s misandry. We should not be accepting as unchangeable that our society is sexist. It must be fought head on. Similarly you say “Lesbians who favor a ‘butch’ or androgynous appearance would be particularly vulnerable” without noting that this anti-trans phenomenon is also misandry. You also fail to tell us why we should care about “if a woman is a survivor of male violence” but not “if a white person is a survivor of black violence”. By this logic shouldn’t we have race-segregated bathrooms again? No? The bigotry is the same.

    Tangentially, if you seriously think that trans people are “probably the most marginalized group in society” (and they are certainly marginalized) then you haven’t been paying any attention at all. You probably think that the next most marginalized groups — I’m sure you can name at least three — actually deserve what they get. They don’t.

    Regarding the claim “Trans women have an unfair advantage in sporting events”, it is exactly backwards. Non-trans women have been granted entire leagues, so they do not have to compete against the best athletes. But occasionally they do still aim to compete against the best (men), yet mediocre men are not given the opportunity to join the mediocre (women’s) leagues. Sex segregated sport is bigotry. They should instead be segregating by ability or some other factor that isn’t generally protected by law. Alternatively, interested women could come up with entirely new sports that work against the strong and fast.

    “Men could live as long as women”. It’s not clear to me that men can’t. If you remove war, homicide, and workplace death, I suspect the lifespan gap is quite small.

    Regarding prisons, again these need to be desegregated. If you wouldn’t send a woman to a men’s prison, then you shouldn’t be sending men there either. These facilities must need a complete redesign. The fact that ANYBODY is harmed in prison indicates that the system is broken. Keep in mind, most of these prisoners are going back into the outside. We can’t keep them from raping and killing each other? Nonsense.

  14. “It is significant that some studies have found that gender identity and sexual orientation are almost perfectly confounded in teenagers who do not yet possess the mature brain or the experience necessary to distinguish between these. ”

    Completely untrue. That doesn’t even pass the sniff test….. how do you explain all the pre adolescent trans kids, where their sexuality has not formed that have gender dysphoria? All all those trans adolesecents …proven not to be gay or lesbian (relative to birth gender)?

    “There are serious ethical problems with having this decision made for them by well-meaning adults. Given that most cases of gender dysphoria in children resolve after puberty, often with the realisation that the child is gay or lesbian,

    ***transitioning children is difficult to justify ethically.**** ”

    That is all totally untrue… Transgender kid and adolescents are very clear about their gender identity.

    It is also difficult to ‘ethically justify’ stopping them from transitioning …and killing quite a few…or do you deny the suicide stats as well…and the studies (even by Zucker) that adolescent transitioning shows greatly improved mental health outcomes?

    I know a lot of parents of trans kids out there and they will be fuming at this repetition of the lies stated by TERFs and religious conservatives.

    What are you recommending as an alternative, compulsory gay/trans conversion therapy for teenagers? Give them, as a friend of mine got, the old electroshock treatment? To force them to ‘accept’ their natal gender? Or is it ‘better dead than trans’?

    What except ‘don’t let them do it because of ….damage or something, or some people just don’t like it’….who cares about all the professionals, decades of studies and clinical practice. Let alone the US, UK, Australian, European…etc psychiatric, psychological, medical, paedriatic, etc organisations that support adolescent transition, puberty blockers and later HRT Let alone WPATH whose standards of care she does not have seem to have read..

  15. My interpretation is Helen Pluckrose:

    (a) Attacks trans activists such as Julia Serano, Brynn Tannehill, Prof Lynn Conway, Kelley Winters ..etc…as well as WPATH……

    (b) Throws, against all the scientific evidence, trans kids and trans adolescents under a bus to appease TERFs and conservatives.

    When even Dr Zucker, long ‘king of trans conversion therapy for GNC minors’, disagrees with the statement that trans adolescents ‘desist’ then there is something wrong here.
    He stated himself, as have meany others, that if you have gender dysphoria at the start of puberty you are very unlikely to desist and the correct treatment is puberty blockers followed by HRT.

    As for pre pubescent kids, based on his own stated numbers for his GIC at CAMH, 67% of trans kids persisted into adolescence…and after suffering his gay/trans conversion therapy.,

    How come we have this factually incorrect statement:
    “Given that most cases of gender dysphoria in children resolve after puberty, often with the realisation that the child is gay or lesbian, transitioning children is difficult to justify ethically.”
    That is completely untrue as has been shown by Tavistok, Dr Zucker himself and others like the New Zealand trans schoolkid survey….many are not ‘really’ gay or lesbian. Roughly 50% of adolescent trans girls are not male attracted and 25%-30% of trans boys not female attracted.

    Not only that, for decades, even anti transgender researchers have shown that gender dysphoria does NOT resolve ‘after puberty’, in fact the vast majority (Zucker claimed 80% other studies shown far more, well over the 95% level) continue to have gender dysphoria.

    Then this?
    “This is hard to accept for many trans people who know how much more successful transitioning is when undertaken before puberty and that a trans person’s happiness and future can depend on that procedure being successful. Still, this cannot justify permanently ~damaging~ the bodies of children whose gender dysphoria will resolve on its own. ”

    What next ‘transitioning is mutilation’?

    Doesn’t she know the actual WPATH Standards of Care? Where reversible puberty blockers are used until 16..with no ‘permanent damage’ if they change their minds? That GRS is not. except in some very rare cases, allowed until 18.
    And if she does and disagrees then what age does she think is acceptable to start HRT? 18, 20, 25. 35…95?

    And what peer reviewed evidence does she bring to the table on this except vague claims…..

  16. (Reprinting my comments from Facebook)

    A couple questions. Your piece has “transgender” in the title, but in the body, it emphasizes “transitioning” and “hormones” and “operations”. So are you really talking specifically about “transsexuality” and not the broader category “transgenderism”? Because this is a huge difference. Many non-binary/gender non-conforming/genderqueer people identify as transgender (that is, “non-cis”), but are definitively not transsexual.

    Second, your use of “gender” throughout confuses. Most times, you seem to use it as a synonym for “sex”, and other times, you use it in the more rigorous and accurate sense of “conventional masculine/feminine sex roles”. In fact, one of your hyperlinks from the phrase “gender differences” points to an article that itself refers to original research with the titles “Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities”, and “Male, Female: The Origin of Human Sex Differences”, and finally “The Science of Sex Differences in Science and Mathematics”. There’s a reason these papers all use “sex” instead of “gender”. The reason is using “gender” would be incorrect.

  17. I don’t understand why so much emphasis is placed on ideas of identity instead of objective, external criteria. What does it matter if their brain, their genes, etc. are telling these people they are members of the opposite sex? Narcissism also has a genetic component (some people are more likely to develop it than others everything else being equal). So they think they are very mportant. Even jf we assume their brain is physically wired to make them think they are very important, so what? What has that got to do with me, with society, with the world out there, with reality outside of their heads?

    It’s completely beside the point.

    We’re talking about safety for females. That safety is at risk based on men’s bodies (i.e., penises), not on anybody’s mind. And this risk doesn’t come from “waving it around”, like you flippantly say, but from rape. This is why feminist proposals for inclusion of trans males usually require a sex change operation. These proposals deal in material reality that affect females’ safety and rarely mention identitarian stuff such as “gender presentation”. Which takes us to those photos you posted.

    I think you miss the mark with those photos. Many lesbians are mistaken for men routinely. They simply clarify it and the other women only need to hear their voices to realize what’s going on. I should stress again that the issue feminists have is not based on whether the individual looks girly or manly or anything else identity-related. This is not about protection from fear; it’s about protection from sexual assault and rape. Their faces don’t matter. So it’s the bepenised girly-looking individual there the one who can rape women when they’re most vulnerable, and therefore that’s the one who would be in the wrong by entering a sex-segregated facility.

    Regarding enforcement: you don’t (except in prisons). You give the possibility to sue afterwards. We don’t enforce tresspassing either. We don’t have a policeman in every door asking us for proof of residence when we’re back from work everyday. Instead, we have the possibility to sue. This one is a non-issue really.

    I agree with most of the remaining points. The reason I’m commenting is to add to the topic the material approach I’ve seen many feminists use, as opposed to the dominant identity-based one.

    1. “bepenised girly-looking individual ” – LoL. 🙂

      But quite agree with you on the overemphasis, and by many who should know better, on “ideas of identity instead of objective, external criteria”. And, speaking of rather profoundly and manifest “objective criteria”, that is why I very much agree with “Posie Parker’s” [Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull’s] quite commendable efforts in the UK to champion the idea that “woman” is, by definition, “human female (produces ova)”. Which I very much doubt any transwoman (compound word like “crayfish” which ain’t) will EVER do.

      In addition, I also think that the authors of this essay are very much missing the boat – some questionable “bias”? – in not clearly differentiating (something that at least one of them should be capable of doing) between “sex” and “gender” – didn’t notice any clear definitions of those terms anywhere in it. Plenty of justification to argue that “gender” is in fact a spectrum. But too many insist on conflating that with “sex” which is most definitely not – two entirely different kettles of fish, two different if related CATEGORIES – like “teenager” & “immature”.

      And, fer instance, Merriam-Webster quite reasonably DEFINES “gender” as “the behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits typically associated with one sex”: many such traits correlate with sex without actually being what “sex” is defined as. And many dictionaries & encyclopaedias quite reasonably define “sex” as the ability to produce either ova or sperm; OED:

      Either of the two main categories (male and female) into which humans and most other living things are divided on the basis of their reproductive functions.

      Although many people – intersex and “menopausees” in particular – object to that definition – note the “two main categories” – since it more or less leads to the conclusion that some people – many people, in fact – simply don’t HAVE a sex. However, such objections seem based more on “feelings” than on logic and facts. It is maybe moot whether that definition for sex is the best one or not, but until a better or more credible one is advanced I think it wisest, and most consistent with the scientific method, to stand pat there, and to deal with the consequential implications.

      1. Defining “sex” as a reproductive category, as a word in itself, is one thing. Claiming that widespread social classification – not only segregation of the few areas with common nudity, but pervasive classification, including something as objectively absurd as different language forms in day-to-day communication about the very same things, by this “sex” is quite another – and has to do with gender, not just sex. And this claim is what Posie, also known for supporting “Tommy Robinson”, is pushing with her “dictionary definitions”.

        1. ??? Bit of a word salad. What “pervasive classification” of what “different language forms” are you referring to?

          And I wonder what evidence you have that Posie is supporting Tommy Robinson, how you think that is relevant to the reasonable definitions for “sex” and “gender” I suggested – and to the entire essay, and what you mean precisely by “this claim” that she is supposedly “pushing”.

          1. People use pronouns, and in many languages also gendered verb forms, to discuss everyday activities. There is literally no rational reason to keep this tied to a person’s birth sex, as opposed to personal identity. Yet anti-trans activists are pushing for just that.

            “Gender” is not merely “traits typically associated with one sex”. They are only a part of gender. Gender is the entire “social face of sex”. Sex in itself is mere biology; it is relevant at the doctor’s, when reproducing, and “in bed”. Anything that becomes social is by definition gender.

            So when Posie makes this slogan, what she means is “Social classification must be by sex”. Thus she defende, by definition, strictly tying gender to sex. Gender is social. Social is gender. There is no “social sex” that is not gender.

            And this is the Tweet that Posie published right after the arrest of Tomy Robinson: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DeJF-mPWkAYrJ3Q.jpg

          2. ramendik:

            What do you mean by “literally no rational reason to keep this [use of pronouns] tied to a person’s birth sex”? Instead of which you’re going to “tie” it to literally a myriad of genders? Will you have a pronoun for each? Birth certificates and driver’s licenses are to be modified every time the “complicated pretentiousness” of some trans-fruit-loop kicks in and it decides it wants a new one?

            Don’t think y’all have really thought through the issue, and the implications and consequences of what you’re suggesting. Pronouns were apparently created for some sound reasons related to efficient discourse, not to pander to those who apparently want to be thought special and better than everyone else. People can have any pronoun they want – as long as it’s “he” (male), “she” (female), or “it” (neither sex).

            But while I’m glad you agree that “sex in itself is mere biology”, although I think it’s rather more than “mere” – kind of makes the world go ‘round, I don’t see that saying “gender is the entire social face of sex” is all that helpful, or particularly accurate. Fer instances, “gender” seems little better than a pretentious neologism for “personality” – we already have first and last names, and social security numbers to differentiate between different ones. As for accuracy, you might check out the chapter (18) on gender in Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate on a wide spectrum of physiological and psychological traits that differentially correlate, to a greater or lesser extent, with our sexes – rather more than just “social”, particularly since much of the social is probably due to the biological.

            And I think you’re reading too much into Parker’s position by saying she’s insisting that “Social classification must be by sex”. Looks more like she’s saying that IF there is such classification – as there clearly is – THEN we should be clear and consistent in what we mean by the related categories.

            As for her defending “strictly tying gender to sex”, she’s hardly unique in that regard or at all unjustified – see the Merriam-Webster definition, and that chapter of Pinker’s. There are obviously a great many “traits” that don’t differentially correlate by sex – number of eyes and arms and legs, and eye and hair colours, for examples – so I doubt that they can be considered part of gender. But many other traits do and can be.

            And finally, I still don’t see how Parker’s tweet about Muslims proves she’s “supporting Tommy Robinson” – methinks you’re reading between the lines, or have your thumb on the scales. All she’s doing is pointing out, quite justifiably, how criticizing the “religion” of Muslims and the dogma of trans-ideologues is considered tantamount to hate speech and blasphemy – hardly conducive to rational discourse and progress.

  18. You actually picked one of Zinnia Jones’ milder tweets to illustrate her POV.

    If women are afraid to share bathrooms with transwomen it’s less to do with the fear they might accidentally see a penis and more to do with transactivists tweeting ‘Die cis scum!’ or (Danielle Muscato) ‘Some women have penises. If you have a problem with this you can suck my dick’.

    The latter isn’t just implied violence, it is implied sexual violence. That’s really not a great way to persuade someone to let you into a space where you would be vulnerable.

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