[#2 Cut straight to he chase? There’s now a #3 post in this series.]
I keep finding myself in these gender / trans / terf threads on Twitter , and am constantly amazed by the range of misunderstandings and poorly conceived freedoms and rights agendas (and viscious discourse, do I need add?)
[Three or four weeks ago it was a short series of exchanges with Graham Linehan, but although I’ve only been watching from the sidelines it keeps erupting and I’ve interjected the odd comment into it again recently.]
Without any research, off the top of my head …
Sex is biological. Gender and sexual-orientation are physio-socio-cultural expression of the biological.
Sex, in sexually reproductive species, is about gonads producing eggs or sperm primarily. Apart from neither or both possibilities, rare in humans, that’s pretty binary. BUT there are many other sex differences caused by individual development genetic, physical, hormonal and psychological, and many of these interact causally two-way with each other and with the primary sex features. These are sexual differences which individually may be indeterminate, ambiguous or intermediate, but they are NOT different sexes even if we classify the sets of cases with different names. By this biological convention, sex is binary (or ambiguous). Intersex isn’t a third sex.
That is already complicated enough beyond the normal binary cases(*1). Gender and sexual-orientation adds another layer of complexity, which cannot be done justice to in a single paragraph, let alone a tweet.
- Sexual-orientation is about preferences for sexual relations between individuals, not about the sex or gender of the individual.
- Gender “assignment” is about wider roles of sex and gender differences in society.
Suffice to say gender variations, fixed or fluid, trans or not are (a) not independent of sex differences, and (b) not unilaterally defined by some mythical right of individual self-identification. Society also cares about those differences, physiological and psychological and cares enough to have expert – biological and psycho-social – opinions as well as individual personal preference. It is asserting (b) that gets branded as extreme, that gets feminists of either sex or gender labelled as TERF’s by trans-political activists. But that’s to deny common sense.
The only real point in the current debate is that “trans” in either direction is far more complicated psycho-socio-culturally than the rights and freedoms of the individual’s choice or even their view of their own biology.
(I keep updating the sentence above, so that it couldn’t be a clearer statement. And the reason it even needs saying is that some trans people and their “supporters” continually abuse the culturally assimilated (*2) rights of women, gays and others, in asserting their own misconceived “rights”. And in doing so they knee-jerk malign and troll those of us pointing out their error. Capiche?)
Psychological complexity expects that all symptoms have multiple meanings… pic.twitter.com/gg58HEDcRX
— Dr. Aaron Balick (@DrAaronB) June 24, 2019
(*1) We need to rehabilitate “normal” as a useful word. It’s not being normative to use it, it’s not a value judgement about individuals. It’s a classification and like all such we may need PC considerations where and when we use the term, but it’s real and useful. All variations and differences from the normal are to be respected and addressed accordingly.
[My go to on these issues is Alice Dreger “Galileo’s Middle Finger”. Though in recent days her focus is more family and local journalism, than fighting the big fight. She did her bit. Respect. See also identity-politics and single-issue-politics referenced and linked in that post.]
(*2) The fact that all such classifications only work, that they’re only real in any practical sense, through cultural assimilation – then captured in law – means that most of the debate really needs to be about the processes that bring about evolution and change (my real interest here). Static “facts” and “assertions of rights” here and now – in anti-social / civil-disobedience sense – are only part of the political pressure in which others get hurt in their existing rights are trampled on. Typically change takes 3 generations (Kondratiev / Kuhn) though with ever faster communications technology cycles, generations are shortening from three score years and ten to maybe thirty.
Roughly:- one to understand the issues and create solutions, one to work through and embed implementation changes, one to forget it was ever an issue. Until then …]