Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What were some of the first moments of strange responses from the school and the community, if any, about the young trans student, your child?
Mother of Trans Child: There were no strange responses from the community at all. Her friends thought nothing of her living as her authenticate self and their parents were all very supportive. The strange response was from the school admin itself. We first had a meeting in January where an unnecessary amount of people were in attendance, including a priest.
The biggest resistance we received from the school was that what washroom she would use. I insisted on the female washroom and that was declined. It was then determined by the school that a single stall washroom would be deemed the “everyone washroom” all the kids in the school had the option of using what washroom they wanted the gendered washroom or the “everyone washroom”. My daughter’s choice was taken away and she was required to use the “everyone washroom only”. When I pressed about this, I was given reasons such as:
- It violates the rights of the “real girls.”
- There are no doors on the stalls in some schools, so she wants to gain access to the girls.
- It’s not segregation to force one student into a separate washroom. (Not only was she forced, she required an escort to attend the washroom with her. This was one of two of her closest friends).
This, of course, is the Coles Notes version of event… we could write a book with everything that has transpired over the last three and a half years.
Jacobsen: How did this become a ‘flash-point’ issue with the Catholic school system in that sector of the province?
Mother of Trans Child: After much debate between the school and I, and when they made their decision final to only allow her to use the “everyone washroom,” I went to the media as I was not going to allow my child to be treated differently. This is when one of the trustee’s, Patricia Grell, learned what was really going on in the school system. She came out confirming that my daughter should be able to use the female washroom. The school board and admin’s response was terrible citing such things as ‘God chooses the gender not the person’. After public criticism, my daughter was “granted permission” to use the female washroom. The story really blew up in September of 2015. There was a school board meeting that went astray. The meeting was to implement a policy allowing transgender students to use the washroom of the gender they identify with. This was truly one of the most disgusting displays of human behavior I have ever seen. It was this meeting that made the story international news.
Jacobsen: What were the feelings of your child, if I may ask, as well as yourself based on the reactions of the hierarchs in the school system and the publicity in the media over it? What has been the most hopeful, as well as difficult, part of the situation?
Mother of Trans Child: At the time my daughter was only 6 just turned 7, so her and her friends did not have access to media outlets and were not aware of what was truly happening. She knew that she was not “allowed” to use the female washroom and couldn’t understand why. Here I am trying to tell her, she is normal and there is nothing wrong with her and her response was, ‘Why then am I not allowed to use the girl’s washroom?’. She was confused on that part; when she was ‘granted permission’ to use the female washroom, she was elated. She was getting to truly live as her authenticate self. It’s truly been amazing to witness.
My feelings are a different story, lol. I was sad that a faith-based group would be so quick to judge and discriminate. That sadness turned into disbelief witnessing the corruption in the Catholic faith and listening to the accusations made about myself by the school administration (child abuse, money hungry, being divorced, and wanting a daughter so forcing her to do this). That sadness is now just disgust, how such bigoted individuals are allowed to teach and lead children is beyond me. Time, and time, again, we have seen the arrogance and disregard this system has for LBGTQ children as well as the Education Act. Yet, nothing is being done by our government to correct this.
There have been hopeful parts of this. It has been the people that I have met through this process. Some of my closest friends are my friends because of my amazing daughter. The most difficult part is now I suffer from bad anxiety as a result of the treatment by the school board. I find it hard to socialize and speak to people due to the anxiety I now have as a result of the last three and a half years of dealing with this. I truly understand why we are the first family to have filed a complaint against the Catholic school system in regards to this topic. They will do everything to attempt to beat a person down to the point where they just switch to the public system.
Jacobsen: Who were some faithful allies for the family?
Mother of Trans Child: First and foremost, Patricia Grell, she risked everything for a little girl she had never even met. She embodied what it meant to be a “good Christian.” She saw a person being hurt and accepted that person as they were. She would not and has not stopped fighting for my daughter. I know how difficult it was for me. I cannot even imagine having to work with those people and deal with that day in and day out. Grell truly is my family’s guardian angel.
Thomas Lukaszuk is also another big ally for us; I brought him the situation just before the election happened. While working on his campaign, he still advocated for my child. After the election, and when he had no vested interest, he still continued to advocate for her.
The former director of the Pride Centre Micky Wilson, who is now one of my closest friends, has always been willing speak to anyone who seeks understanding on this topic.
Dr. Justin Petryk and Dr. Lorne Warneke are also huge allies, and then many friends and family as well.
Jacobsen: What do you think should be done moving forward?
Mother of Trans Child: Moving forward, I think the government needs to take a more aggressive approach. To date, they have had consultations and conversations. However, the Catholic system still finds ways to challenge the authority. They truly believe that religion is above basic human rights and have shown that they do not have the best interest of the child at hand. The Minister of Education needs to amend the Education Act to outline any confusion the Catholic school board and any religious figure may have about human rights. One might say well that’s is what the Human Rights Act is for… my response is, “Yes, I agree. However, the school system keeps referencing the School Cannon Law, which is tied into the Education Act. There is no harm in having it (human rights) outlined in more than one place.”
Jacobsen: Any final feelings or thoughts?
Mother of Trans Child: I just truly hope that the NDP step up and act as they promised they would. So far there has been nothing up empty threats by the government. Now, with a new school board and trustees pledging their responsibility to the archbishop rather than the students, we are going to need more than just words. We see the arrogance as recently as this week; after the minister has said, “No,” to a Catholic teaching sexual education program. A release of said program was still leaked. This type of teaching is extremely harmful to an already vulnerable group of children.
Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time to share your story.
I understand this is a controversial topic, but I think the school board is correct in maintaining that real boys and real girls exist (because they do). I dont think ones subjective sense of gender identity should lead to the overturning of biological reality.
I don’t think you understand the issue being discussed. The idea of gender as a social construct does not in any way “overturn” the biological reality of sexes any more that the idea of human rights as a social construct overturns the biological reality of dog-eat-dog, violent, ruthless, survival-of-the-fittest natural selection. Nature remains nature, and biology remains biology; we’ve just chosen to build something more humane and intelligent on top of those things.
The idea is: the fact that you have a certain set of genitals that are designed for a certain biological function – and a certain set of related chromosomes in your genome – has absolutely nothing to do with whether you choose to wear dresses or pants. Dresses and pants are not a biological reality. There is nothing biologically “wrong” with a human being having a functioning penis and testes, but deciding to wear skirts, heels, bras, and makeup, read Cosmo, cry while watching “chick flicks”, and whatever other stereotypes are socially connected to “femininity”. In fact, connecting gender to sex at all is arguably just a historical accident.
And once you realize that gender is totally disconnected from sex, then it’s not such a crazy idea that there can be more than two genders. (Actually, there are also more that two sexes. But let’s not get off track.) The traditional social construct of “maleness/masculinity” may not be a good fit for a person… but then neither may be the social construct of “femaleness/femininity”. They may take bits and pieces from both, or they may not really have any connection to either – they may be something completely new.
Teaching kids that their identity isn’t necessarily defined by their genitalia is a very good lesson, and one that should be mandatory in all schools. Certainly all schools that are publicly funded.
I agree that gender is not the same as biological sex, although I would argue that biology does influence certain gender characteristics. For example, men are generally stronger, taller, and more aggressive; these traits are not a social construct.
Biological sex is an immutable reality; you are born either a male or a female. Gender is the state of being a male or female; hence maleness/masculinity and femaleness/femininity. Sex is an objective reality whereas gender is influenced by social/cultural norms.
I see no inherent issue if a biological male decides to wear a skirt and do things that are associated with femaleness. He may simply be a effeminate male. However, the problem becomes when people start to identify themselves as female just because they act according to certain female stereotypes. Kids may get confused when they start to conflate gender norms with sex: wearing a skirt (gender) and watching chick flicks (gender) doesn’t make you a girl (sex).
This article is about a transgendered child and her mother. Presumably the child is a biological boy but identifies as a girl. The mother is supportive and has decided to allow her child to identify as the opposite sex. The problem seems all to obvious to me: the child is not the opposite sex. No matter how sincerely the biological boy may want to be a girl, the fact remains that he is a biological male.
> I agree that gender is not the same as biological sex, although I would argue that biology does influence certain gender characteristics. For example, men are generally stronger, taller, and more aggressive; these traits are not a social construct.
They’re also not the least bit relevant to individuals’ gender. The fact that biological males are “generally” stronger, taller, etc. is completely irrelevant to a biological male who happens *not* to be those things. All that data tells you – if it tells you anything at all – is perhaps that biological males are more likely to socially identify as masculine (or that if you pick a random biological male, they will probably identify as “he”). Which, fine, sure, that’s probably true.
But that data *doesn’t* lead to the conclusion you think it leads to: that because biological males “generally” have characteristics associated with social masculinity, that means *all* biological males are automatically masculine by default. You’re using a statistic to infer *general* truths… not absolute truths. That’s the same fallacy as saying since humans are “generally” (over 60%) Asian, that means “Asian” is the default for all humans.
> Biological sex is an immutable reality; you are born either a male or a female.
I’ve already mentioned (in parentheses) that that’s not actually true. XX and XY may be the most common genotypes, but there’s also XXX, XXY, XYY, X0, XX/X0, XY/X0, XX/XY, and so on and so forth.
But in any case, that’s irrelevant. Because whatever biological sex you happened to be born with, biology doesn’t determine what clothes you like to wear, what art/media appeals to you, what people/characteristics you identify with and so on.
> … wearing a skirt (gender) and watching chick flicks (gender) doesn’t make you a girl (sex).
“Girl” is not defined by sex. There is lots of proof of that. For starters, whether you’re a “girl” or not can depend on your age; we don’t usually call 80 year-old women “girls”. Being a “girl” can also depend on behaviour, or even just on the particular social situation; calling a particular woman “girl” may be fine while flirting at a dance club, but not cool in a board meeting.
But to really pin it down to the issue you seem to think is most important: Many people who aren’t biologically female are considered “girls”. Some of them are XXX, others are X0. And there have been cases where a “girl”‘s testes suddenly appear at puberty (it’s more common than you’d think: look up “guevedoce”).
> The mother is supportive and has decided to allow her child to identify as the opposite sex.
This is where your confusion lies. You can’t identify as a “sex”. The very idea is nonsensical. What the child is doing is identifying to a *gender*; in this case, apparently, the female gender.
She is going to present herself to society as a woman, and possibly feminine. She is going to ask society to treat her as all girls and women are treated. She is probably going to do things that society frowns on boys and men for doing, and she is probably going to face the same discrimination and challenges that other girls and women get.
And *NONE* of that has *ANYTHING* to do with her biology. Yes, she will continue to be *biologically* male (assuming no technological intervention). But for all purposes in society where biology doesn’t matter… which is to say, basically all purposes in society… she’ll be a woman.
I’m going guess, and hope, that when you meet women and interact with them, you don’t ask to see their genitals or check their chromosomes before you consider them women. Because it doesn’t matter. In fact, for all you know, you may have interacted with women who were born biologically male already – you wouldn’t know, and it clearly didn’t matter. You’re making up a problem that just doesn’t exist in reality.
I would not – nor have I – argue that because “biological males generally have characteristics associated with social masculinity, [then] all biological males are automatically masculine by default.” That would be a hasty generalization and demonstrably false. This is what I actually said: A biological male can or may exhibit all the characteristics associated with femininity, yet that person still remains a biological male.
“XX and XY may be the most common genotypes, but there’s also XXX, XXY, XYY, X0, XX/X0, XY/X0, XX/XY, and so on and so forth.”
Are you arguing that people born intersex constitute a third sex? Humans are a sexually dimorphic species. A male can only reproduce with female. All variations from the XY XX binary are considered birth defects, not a 3rd sex. Some of these intersex variations can reproduce. Where they are able, it is always with the opposite sex; never with a 3rd sex.
“But in any case, that’s irrelevant. Because whatever biological sex you happened to be born with, biology doesn’t determine what clothes you like to wear, what art/media appeals to you, what people/characteristics you identify with and so on.”
We already agreed on this point: Biology doesn’t determine fashion, tastes, or other subjective personality identifiers.
“But to really pin it down to the issue you seem to think is most important: Many people who aren’t biologically female are considered “girls”. Some of them are XXX, others are X0. And there have been cases where a “girl”‘s testes suddenly appear at puberty (it’s more common than you’d think: look up “guevedoce”).
XXX and XO, I believe, are both technically female (if not then technically male, with a development defect). With Guevedoce they appear as girls but then develop into men during puberty. They can even father children, which implies that they are of the male sex; they were just born with a development defect.
“You can’t identify as a “sex”.”
Of course you can. We do it all the time. For example, I am a man, a.k.a. an adult male. When you are born you are assigned a sex, either male or female (it’s a boy! or it’s a girl!). When you get a passport they ask you if you are a male or a female. These are just a few examples when you are asked to identify according to your sex.
“What the child is doing is identifying to a *gender*; in this case, apparently, the female gender.”
This, I think, is exactly where the confusion lies. Once again, sex is being conflated with gender, when, as we have both already agreed, they are not the same thing. The dictionary definition of female is: of or denoting the sex that can bear offspring or produce eggs, distinguished biologically by the production of gametes (ova) that can be fertilized by male gametes. Gender, on the other hand, is defined as: the state of being male or female (typically used with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones):
The child is thus making a contradiction in terms. One cannot technically identify as the female gender because the word “female” implies a biological reality whereas “gender” describes the particular condition of someone or something (in this case, the condition of being a male or a female (masculine/masculinity/feminine/femininity).
A biological male who claims to be a female as a subjective identifier is making a categorically false claim because being a female, or a girl (a female child) or a woman (a female adult) is not actually gender; the word female refers specifically to biological sex. This is why identifying as a female does not automatically make someone a female. Similar examples are as follows: identifying as a 13 year old boy doesn’t make me one; identifying as an Hispanic doesn’t make me one; identifying as a bear doesn’t make me one.
Yes, and that’s not only obviously true, it’s tautologically true… and nobody is arguing it, because it’s completely beside the point. You’ve missed the point I was making. You are claiming that gender is determined by biological sex… which is demonstrably false. There is no objective or scientific reason that a biologically male person has to be a “man” in any practical context that doesn’t involve their genes, genitals, or reproductive capability. Linking biological sex to gender is just a social convention from tradition, nothing more. Saying that because most biological males adopt a masculine social gender means that masculine social gender is inextricably or automatically attached to biological maleness is the hasty generalization fallacy.
If a biological male exhibits “all the characteristics associated with femininity”, then what sense does it make to insist that they’re a man in any situation that biological sex is not relevant? Which is virtually every situation; I’ve already pointed out that you have never once in your life tested someone’s genes or genitals before assuming they’re a man or woman in practice, and you don’t seem to have disagreed on that point.
You tell me! You’re the one arguing the idea of only two distinct sexes determining only two distinct genders, in defiance of what scientists, doctors, and sociologists all say. You’re the one making the extraordinary claims here, not me. You tell me how that works.
You tell me how you think it can work. How do you define (biologically) male and female? Is it just genes (for example, if there’s a Y, it’s a male, otherwise female)? Is it reproductive capacity (for example, regardless of their genome, if someone can get pregnant and give birth they’re female, if they can get someone pregnant they’re male)? You tell me how you think it can possibly work. Because, spoiler alert, any attempt you make to define a clear rule, I can provide a counterexample that shows your simplistic binary classification simply doesn’t work.
Here, I’ll even give you a freebie: How would you classify a person whose genome is XY… but who got pregnant and gave birth. Yes, that actually happened. Is that a male or a female, biologically speaking?
And I’ll mention that we haven’t even started on the issue of technological interventions.
And moving beyond just biology, what do you call a person with breasts, a womb, and a penis? Is that a man or a woman? Does it matter if one or the other of the womb/penis is functional? What if neither is? Is your term for this person neither man nor woman, but “defective”?
Again you’ve missed the point, which is that biology is obviously not what determines whether a person is a girl or not. Those examples are all people who are not female by the biological definition, but who were all girls as far as any real-world determinations and interactions were concerned. And there are many, many more examples of people who were determined to be not biologically female but who lived as women (or were not biologically male but lived as men).
The point is that gender is clearly not determined solely by biological sex. And it’s not true that people have a biologically determined gender then “put on an act” as another gender; neither the guevodoces nor XXX/XO people (or XY people with a SRY deficiency, etc.) could be accused of “lying” about their gender, or “pretending” to be women even though they are actually men. They honestly believe they are women, and some even go through their whole lives not knowing they’re not biologically female.
No you can’t, and no we don’t. Your confusion is due to sloppy terminology. You keep switching between sex and gender as if they are synonyms, but they are not. Your sex is biologically determined; your gender is a social construct… as is your identity. You can’t decide your sex; you can decide your gender. You can no more “identify” to a sex than you can “identify” to a blood type; you can’t walk into a blood clinic and say “I identify as B-positive” – they don’t give a shit what you choose to identify as, they want to know your actual, biological blood type.
Ironically, you do get this idea correct later when arguing that the child is wrong to identify as female (though you make other mistakes there). So you clearly do understand the problem of “identifying” to an objective fact, biological or otherwise. So why don’t you see the problem here?
Again, sloppy terminology. That is telling me your gender, not your sex. I would wager that you don’t even know what your true sex is. Oh, you think you’re male? Have you ever actually had a chromosomal test? It doesn’t even matter if you’ve gotten someone pregnant – it’s entirely possible for you to be XX but an undeveloped twin’s SRY gene triggered causing you to develop testes and such.
Yet again, sloppy terminology. Your sex is not “assigned”. It is determined, and your gender is assigned based on that. And, as the guevodoce case illustrates, the determination can be wrong. When the guevodoce’s testes appear at puberty, their sex doesn’t change… that idea is ridiculous. There were always biologically male. However, they might change their gender.
The facts do not agree with your opinion.
The one conflating sex and gender here is you, not I.
First of all, using a dictionary to determine a definition for a technical term is a terrible idea. Dictionaries are descriptive, not prescriptive; they try to capture the meanings of words based on their general usage… which quite often means they don’t correctly capture technical nuance. And sometimes, the definitions are simply flat-out wrong; if the word is commonly used incorrectly, the dictionary will dutifully include the incorrect definition along with the correct one (which is how you end up with absurdities like “peruse” being defined both as “to examine carefully and with consideration” and “to skim”).
But all that aside, the real problem here isn’t that the definitions are bad (though, they are), it’s that you’re not even using them correctly. There is in fact no contradiction in terms. You just refuse to accept what the terms actually are.
The biological definition of “female” is yadda, yadda, eggs, whatever. Fine. I mean, not fine; if you actually try to use that definition of “female” in practice, even just in a biological context, you’ll see it doesn’t work. But it’ll do for now since no one is arguing about biology here. So yes, that child is (presumably) biologically male. (Though I’m not sure how you can be certain of that without actually conducting a medical examination on the kid.)
But then you read the definition of “gender” (which is also terrible, but if that’s the one you want to work with right now, fine) and completely ignore what it actually says in preference for what you want it to say. The definition you give literally says it’s not using biology. It literally says that. Yet you insist on ignoring that and trotting out biology.
I don’t even know which dictionary you’re using, because I don’t believe that any dictionary made in the 21st century defines “female” or “gender” in those ways with no other alternatives. (Every dictionary I have defines “female” both in terms of sex and gender.) But even if we use this dictionary of yours, it doesn’t say what you want it to say. It says exactly what I’ve been trying to say to you: Yes, this child’s sex will continue to be male – the child is biologically male, and that will not change (barring technological intervention) – but because this child now wants to present and live by the “social and cultural differences” unique to the female gender, that child’s gender is now female. Yes, yes, yes, the child’s sex is still male. But the child’s gender is now female. And in our society, we typically address people of the female gender as “she/her”.
Before the discovery of “Space”, the word “Sky” used to mean the whole shebang; the blue atmosphere, stars, sun, moon, clouds etc, etc. Everything you could see by looking up, all wrapped into one.
Now it means only the blue atmosphere, and possibly the clouds, but the sun, moon, and stars are regarded as exterior to “Sky” and part of the greater “Universe” beyond, though still sometimes included poetically within “Sky” for traditional reasons.
You first assume my position: “You (Mark) are claiming that gender is determined by biological sex.”
I don’t think I said this. Regardless, in defence, I would maintain that biological sex influences gender, but it is no way determined. For example, men (biology) generally have more testosterone (biology), and are therefore generally more aggressive (gender stereotype influenced by our biology) than women. If biology determined gender (aggressiveness) than all men would be more aggressive than women. Since this is obviously not the case, I think we can both agree that gender is not determined by biological sex. Yes?
To support my unstated claim, you state: “there is no objective or scientific reason that a biological male has to be a “man.”
Here is my retort: a biological man (biology) can only ever be a “man” (biology). A biological man is inseparable from being a man because they are exactly the same thing.
Here’s my assumption: a biological man is the same thing as a “man.” Both are biological realities.
This is where you use sex (biological man) and gender (I assume this is what you mean with you say ‘man”) incorrectly.
Accusation: You think that a biological man and a gender “man” are two different realities. Is this correct? This is why you earlier stated “What the child is doing is identifying to a *gender*; in this case, apparently, the female gender.” If this is true, then you have used the same word – female – to describe biological sex (female) and gender (female). How can you use the same word to describe two different things?
If female = biological sex, then how could female also = gender? We both agree they are different realities, then why are you using the same word interchangeably?
Here’s my claim: Female = biological sex. Female does not = gender.
Reason: Biological sex = male or female based on biological factors (reproductive system).
Reason: Gender = the state of being a biological male or a biological female
Thus: Gender only describes the characteristics and attributes associated with being a biological male or female. Gender roles, stereotypes, and expressions are all those behavioral traits associated with being a male or female; they are never the actual male or female (that’s the biological reality).
Therefore, it is incorrect to state “female gender” because female is not a gender, gender only describes the attributes and characteristics associated with a sex. Like we both agreed, sex and gender are different. Different things require different language to describe these different realities.
You state: “If a biological male exhibits “all the characteristics associated with femininity”, then what sense does it make to insist that they’re a man in any situation that biological sex is not relevant? Which is virtually everysituation.”
It makes perfect sense to insist that they are a man because that is what they are factually. As we both already agreed, “A biological male can or may exhibit all the characteristics associated with femininity, yet that person still remains a biological male.” Your confusion is you think a biological man and a “man” are two different things; I have no reason for believing they are.
Distinguishing between the sexes seems very relevant, I would think. Census forms, dating websites, emergency room situation, sports, all-boy or girl schools, boy/girl scouts, blood donors, washrooms, fraternities, etc. They are many examples where biological sex is very relevant.
“I’ve already pointed out that you have never once in your life tested someone’s genes or genitals before assuming they’re a man or woman in practice, and you don’t seem to have disagreed on that point.”
That’s because it is almost always obvious. I think for the vast majority of people their sex is knowable simply through external observation. I think this is due to our sexual dimorphism. Of course there are exceptions; some guys can look like girls. In those situations I would tread a little more carefully.
“You’re the one arguing the idea of only two distinct sexes determining only two distinct genders, in defiance of what scientists, doctors, and sociologists all say.”
Can you send me some links?
“How do you define (biologically) male and female?”
I understand biological sex is determined according to gametes (sperm for male vs egg for female).
“Because, spoiler alert, any attempt you make to define a clear rule, I can provide a counterexample that shows your simplistic binary classification simply doesn’t work.”
Any counterexample would be evidence of an abnormality to the binary. Question: Are you arguing against the sex binary? How does that square with our understanding of evolutionary biology which states we are a sexually dimorphic species?
“Here, I’ll even give you a freebie: How would you classify a person whose genome is XY… but who got pregnant and gave birth. Yes, that actually happened. Is that a male or a female, biologically speaking?”
“And moving beyond just biology, what do you call a person with breasts, a womb, and a penis? Is that a man or a woman? Does it matter if one or the other of the womb/penis is functional? What if neither is? Is your term for this person neither man nor woman, but “defective”?”
Question: You argue that “biology is obviously not what determines whether a person is a girl or not.” If biology doesn’t determine a male or a female, than what are your specific criteria for determining a male from a female?
“Those examples are all people who are not female by the biological definition, but who were all girls as far as any real-world determinations and interactions were concerned”
This is incorrect. Children born with Guevedoce are male according to the biological definition. Their male reproductive system are just hidden due to their intersex condition. At puberty they more fully develop and are capable of fathering children. Like you said, sex is determined, regardless if the doctor made a mistake.
“The point is that gender is clearly not determined solely by biological sex.”
I never disagreed.
“You can no more “identify” to a sex than you can “identify” to a blood type; you can’t walk into a blood clinic and say “I identify as B-positive” – they don’t give a shit what you choose to identify as, they want to know your actual, biological blood type.”
(I am confused about how you use the word identity. Are you saying I cannot identify with the factual reality of my biological sex?)
I give blood, and my biological sex is extremely relevant to them. Why? Because, I, as a male, can give blood more frequently than a woman. Why, because women do not have the same levels of stored iron (possibly due to women’s menstration cycles). Men can give every 12 weeks. Women can give every 16 weeks. You can’t hide from your biology.
Whenever I identify as a male (or a boy or a man) I am referring to my biological sex. I am identifying with a factual descriptor of who I am.
“So you clearly do understand the problem of “identifying” to an objective fact, biological or otherwise.”
I’m confused here. I don’t see the problem of identifying to an objective fact. I identify as a male because I am one. I don’t see the problem with identifying with an objective reality rather than some social construct or some other subjective reality that can change at whim.
In reference to me identifying as a man, you retort:
“Again, sloppy terminology. That is telling me your gender, not your sex.”
A man is an adult male and a male is determined according to his biological reality. This is yet another example of you confusing sex with gender. This is above quote of yours is an admission that you think “man” (and adult male) can = gender as well as = sex (= confusing sex and gender)
“Oh, you think you’re male? Have you ever actually had a chromosomal test? It doesn’t even matter if you’ve gotten someone pregnant – it’s entirely possible for you to be XX but an undeveloped twin’s SRY gene triggered causing you to develop testes and such.”
I would still be a male, even if I wasn’t able to reproduce. I have a male reproductive system. Even if I wasn’t able to reproduce or had some other unacknowledged development abnormality I would still be a male. There are only 2 choices, and both are determined.
“The definition you give (of gender) literally says it’s not using biology. It literally says that. Yet you insist on ignoring that and trotting out biology.
I would assume when they say “not using biology” they are implying biological parts. For example, a gender attribute of a male is not that he has a penis (biological). That’s all.
“(Every dictionary I have defines “female” both in terms of sex and gender.)”
So here you admit that it is ok to use female in terms of sex and gender? If so, what is your definition of the female sex vs the definition of the female gender? You admit they are different; why do they use the same words to describe different realities?
“…that child’s gender is now female. Yes, yes, yes, the child’s sex is still male. But the child’s gender is now female.”
Final question: Is it possible that the use of the word female can be used to describe both sex and gender? Can female = sex and gender? If this is true, then perhaps you can explain this point a little more. It seems that this is our biggest impasse at coming to some mutual understanding.
Are you kidding me?! That’s your entire thesis! You don’t need to say those exact words in that exact order to state the exact same idea.
You literally define gender (incorrectly, I note), in the very comment I’m replying to as:. You’ve stated that gender being defined by anything other than biological sex is a , and said that attempts to identify to a gender other than the one determined by biological sex are .
And even if you want to argue that you just overstated your case in all those examples, and you really just meant to say that gender is not “determined” but merely “strongly influenced” by biological sex… that would still make everything you’ve written up to this point gibberish.
That’s because the whole point of you commenting on this article at all is because you think there is something “wrong” with this biological male identifying to the female gender. But if gender is not determined by sex… then there is nothing strange or surprising about a gender that doesn’t “match” the sex. So… what’s your problem? The kid’s gender was not determined by her biological sex, which you now say you’re okay with.
It’s beginning to look like the problem here isn’t just that you’re confused about biology (such as believing there are only two distinct sexes of humans) and sociology (such as thinking that gender is defined by biological sex); you don’t even seem to understand your own position.
I’ve said before that you are very sloppy with your terminology, and this is a particularly egregious case.
There is no such thing in biology as a “man”. The term “biological man” is gibberish.
What do you even think a “biological man” would be? How would you try to define the term? I don’t think you understand how messy and complicated biology really is. “Male” makes limited sense in biology when talking about individual cells, and it’s usually stretched in a hand-wavey, reductionist way to describe organisms whose reproductive plumbing is mostly (or, in the theoretical case, entirely) made up of male equipment. Using it for organisms is just a simplification – it doesn’t reflect biological realities – but it works most of the time.
“Man” is a social term, not a biological term. To be a man depends on things entirely unrelated to biology. It usually depends on age, but in some cultures there’s a rite of passage, and you’re not a man unless regardless of your age unless and until you take that rite of passage. And further evidence that man is not a biological term is the usual fact that we consider someone a “man” or not depending entirely on non-biological factors – have you ever demanded to see someone’s genitals or genome before accepting that they’re a man? No, of course you haven’t.
Because – and it sounds like this is going to blow your mind – sometimes words have more than one meaning.
Pick up any respectable dictionary made in the modern era, and I guarantee you that you will find at least two definitions for “female”: one biological, and one based on social cues. For example, Wiktionary’s #1 and #2 definitions are sex and gender respectively. Oxford defines it in terms of sex, then includes an alternate definition just in terms of “women” (which, like “man”, is a social term, not a biological one). The Free Dictionary has multiple definitions, all of which mention sex and gender in different ways.
Not all words associated with gender also have biological meanings. “Female” does, but “woman” doesn’t. Neither does “feminine”. Nor “girl”, “lady”, and so on.
However, I have to correct you. I do not use the word “interchangeably”. If you check, you’ll see that I am always very careful to distinguish between female sex and female gender. (You can even see that in the quote you used – I explicitly said.) I understand the difference between the female sex, and the female gender, and I am always careful to be clear which I am referring to.
No, they’re not – with the exception of “emergency room situation” and possibly “blood donors” in some contexts. And in the case of the census, more and more countries are separating sex and gender. Society is very slowly catching up to that fact that sex almost never matters, and gender isn’t all that big a deal. I’ve already pointed out that you were mistaken about passports being only M or F.
None of those other situations require knowing someone’s sex. No one has ever checked genitals or genomes before allowing someone in a specific washroom, or checking an option on a dating site. As for sports… well, they are dealing with serious problems on that front already; they’ve already discovered that there isn’t such a clear line between male and female, and they’re struggling with it.
And you mentioned the boy scouts… hadn’t you heard that they’re accepting girls now?
It’s true that historically, societies had this hard male/female distinction, and enforced it legally and even violently (through surgery). But those days are numbered, as society and law catch up to the science.
Exactly what does that mean,? If someone looks androgynous, or seems a little too “feminine” to be a man, do you then demand to see their genitals or genome?
What’s really going on here is just that you’re assuming people’s genders “match” their sex… and you know what, most of the time you’ll probably be right. But the point is not whether the link is usually right or not. The point is that you are deciding people are men and women not using their biology, but rather using other cues – particularly social cues, like dress, behaviour, and so on.
The fact that you’re refusing to acknowledge is that you don’t decide people are men or women based on their biology. As I said, you have never, not even once in your life, demanded that someone show you their genitals or genome before you accept that they’re a man or woman. Whatever it is you’re using to make that judgment, it ain’t biology. That is a fact.
You are choosing after having made that judgment that someone is a man or woman to then assume that they’re also a biological male or female. That’s fine if that’s your thing, and you’ll probably be right most of the time… but you seem to think it’s the world’s problem if your assumption fails to work. It’s not; it’s your problem. If you meet this child, see that she’s a girl – which you will do assuming she fits your socially-conditioned idea of what “girl” looks and acts like – and from there make the incorrect assumption that that means she’s a biological female… that’s your problem. Not hers. She’s not “lying” to you; you just made a bad assumption, probably unnecessarily (unless you were planning to mate with her, or something else that requires knowing her biological sex).
To counter every bit of misinformation that you seem to have on these topics would require a library of links, and more than a couple will trigger the spam blocker. So I’ll just pick one, and make it a good one. This one is from Nature, arguably the most respected journal in the world – the only plausible challenger is Science – but it is written for the general public (though it does get a little technical in places), and it focuses specifically on sex, not gender (though gender is mentioned in passing):
https://www.nature.com/news/sex-redefined-1.16943The only criticism I’ve seen of that article is people annoyed that it gives the impression that any of this is new in biology; actually biologists I’ve seen commenting on it have uniformly shrugged and said, “no shit”.
It squares perfectly. The problem isn’t “our” understanding, it’s yours. It doesn’t matter how muddy sex determination is for an organism; so long as you have a matching pair of viable gametes and a functioning womb to host the zygote in until it’s viable, that’s all you need for evolution. Neither biology nor evolution requires hard and fast categories of male and female at the organism level; it doesn’t matter whether the sperm donor has an XX genome or the egg donor has an XY genome (both of which are possible, and have happened), or if they both happen to be true hermaphrodites. Nature doesn’t require clear and distinct categories; that’s a human need.
In what way? If you produce sperm you’re a male, and if you produce eggs you’re a female? Do you think that actually works in reality? (It doesn’t.)
So you understand they’re not male or female, but you’re still unable to get past the idea that there are only two sexes?
Again you’ve missed the point completely.
Once again this comes down to sloppy terminology.
When you identify as male, you are usually identifying your gender… not your sex. Oh, I gather you think they’re the same, but again that just comes down to ignorance and sloppy terminology. 99% of the time, when you identify as male to someone, you are telling them how to view and treat you socially – you are telling them you want them to call you “he/him”, and think of you as a “man” (or “boy”), and so on. You are almost never telling them about your genome or genitals, because those things are of absolutely no relevance to them (unless you’re planning on making a baby with them, or other limited circumstances, like medical situations where biology actually matters). It is certainly possible to identify yourself by your sex, too (and many people do, for example, when they identify as “cisgender”)… but that doesn’t mean what you think it means.
Identity is a social construct, not an objective fact, and certainly not a biological fact. People change their identities all they time, and I guarantee it doesn’t involve a complete biological reconstruction (though sometimes it does involve partial biological changes). Your identity is just a list of things you use to define yourself – a list of things you consider to be true about yourself.
But the key word there is “consider”. Because these are all opinions about yourself. They are things you believe are true. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re actually true. Many people identify in ways that are straight-up demonstrably false – they simply don’t measure up in reality – but that’s how they identify nonetheless.
So identifying as B+ is useless to a blood clinic. They don’t care what you believe about yourself. They want to know what your actual blood type is.
Similarly, you can certainly identify as biologically male… but that doesn’t mean you are actually actually biologically male. And this goes back to the guevodoce example you missed the point of. They identify as female gendered, and of the female sex (because most people, like you, just assume they’re the same thing)… but they discover later the latter is just not true and never was. Similarly, you obviously identify as biologically male… but are you sure? Have you ever checked? Have the lessons of guevodoces and other people who lived their entire lives with a gender that didn’t “match” their sex taught you nothing?
Identifying as biologically male (or female) is as meaningless as identifying to a blood type. In any situation where your biology actually matters, no one gives a shit what you identify as… they want to know what you’re actual biological sex is.
Why would you assume that rather than what it actually says? That’s pretty motivated reading comprehension there.
Is Caitlyn Jenner a woman?
Why are you asking me? Is that supposed to be someone I should know?
We are obviously talking past each other in regards to the theory of sex and gender. I thought I would propose a real life scenario and see your response.
Caitlyn Jenner was Bruce Jenner (the Olympic athlete and now a reality tv star). He became a she following a transition. He now identifies as a she. The question is is she really a woman? If you say Yes then on what basis and if no then om what basis.
Similarly, is the young girl in the article really a girl? Is she really a girl just because she identifies as a girl and likely behaves in ways typically associated with being a girl?
The problem isn’t us “talking past each other”. The problem is that I’m supplying real evidence and you’re just refusing to acknowledge it. I have, as requested, even provided evidence from one of the world’s most respected science journals… didn’t even seem to make a dent. What was the point of asking me to provide a link with evidence if you weren’t going to pay any attention to it?
We are not “talking past each other”. I am looking carefully at every word you write, and drilling down even past that to suss out what you mean – at one point I even seemed to show better understanding of what you really mean than you do. All of my replies have been detailed rebuttals to your claims, backed up with reason and evidence. All of your replies have just been trotting out new claims. This is not “talking past each other”. This is you saying something, me spending time and effort understanding it then analyzing and deconstructing it, then you simply pretending that didn’t happen and trying a different gambit. My experience with this type of “discussion” is that it will go on for as long as you think you have new gambits to try, then when you run out, you’ll pretend that we both contributed equally but neither was able to muster a convincing argument… completely ignoring that everything I’ve written was a convincing argument, but you just couldn’t possibly be convinced because you didn’t bother to seriously acknowledge any of it.
Anyway, with regards to Caitlyn Jenner, I thought the name was familiar – she was a soap opera star, right? She did something with the Kardashians or something like that?
The problem with real life scenarios is that they require both of us to be fully read up on the example. I don’t know all that much about Caitlyn Jenner; just vague impressions from news about her that I didn’t really care about. I gather that she’s done modelling and stuff – I think I recall she was in a really, really stupid Pepsi ad recently – and I’m pretty sure feminists were complaining about her propagating some anti-feminist ideas about women.
From all that, I’d say it certainly sounds like a woman. If she says she’s a woman, and if she’s living like a woman, that’s all the basis you should need. The fact that even feminists are holding her to the standard they hold other women to (if I’m remembering that correctly) pretty much clinches it for me.
And because I know you have a serious problem with terminology, “girl” is a social concept, not a biological one. She is still biologically male (presumably). But her gender is now female, and that, along with other factors (like age), make her a girl. If you ever met this person, you would probably see her as a girl, and treat her as one… and from what I’ve read, you’d probably make the presumption that she was also biologically female, but that would be your error, and she would be under no obligation to straighten that out unless you were in one of those rare situations where biology actually matters.
I appreciate the time you’re taking to analyze my ideas. Regardless of what you may think, I, too, am thinking deeply about your posts and attempting to clarify our respective positions. However, I still think we are talking past each other; perhaps both of us refusing to acknowledge the conflicts in our ideas?
For example, I accused – and you admitted – that you use the word “female” or “male” to describe both biological sex and gender. Thus, according to you, one can be a biological female yet a gender male.
I find this to be problematic and confusing. You do not. Presumably because you think the idea of a biological male or female is irrelevant (that’s a topic for another post).
I find it to be problematic for the following reason (re-stated).
1. Definitional: sex describes biological sex whereas gender describes typical social and cultural attributes of that biological sex (the state of being male or female). You, on the other hand, superimpose language ascribed to describe biological sex into the realm of gender. You have, in effect, 1) redefined what gender means to suit your argument and 2) you are creating a scenario which deliberately confuses sex and gender. The result: society will be unable to distinguish between biological sex and gender because you are intentionally conflating the two.
Here’s a hypothetical scenario in accord with your ideas:
I am a biological female but I identify as a man. I really have to pee, so I enter the man’s bathroom. Shoot, the private stall is in use. There is a urinal to its left; what’s a biological female who identifies as a gendered man to do with this strange looking hole in the wall??? I’ll have to very well tuck my head between my legs, stick my ass up in the air, spread eagle and hope to heaven I hit the pisser.
…Now I’m thinking “perhaps this “male” bathroom is a “biological male” bathroom, not a “gender male” bathroom.” This needs to change. This ain’t right! (We need to ensure that gendered men like me –not those primitive “biological men” – no longer have to endure the exclusivity of all those biological men. Equality is everything. Biology is irrelevant; it’s for the birds and bigots!!!)
In regards to the science article…yes, you are correct…it hasn’t made a dent in my thinking. Why is this? This is because all these well-known intersex conditions do nothing to affect the indisputable truth that the human species is sexually dimorphic. (Again I ask, do you deny that the human species are sexually dimorphic? Do you know anyone who was conceived without the union of female (egg) and a male (sperm)?)
Here’s some uncontroversial evidence: the survival of our species is absolutely dependent on the union of a male sperm and a female egg. This is the only way reproduction occurs within the human species. I repeat, regardless of your gender identity, or intersex condition, there is only 1 possible way life is reproduced, and that is with the sexual union of the two, opposite sexes. This is what defines sex.
Hence, there can only be 2 sexes, because….(and I know you don’t like definitions)…sex is defined as “either of the two main categories (male and female) into which humans and many other living things are divided on the basis of their reproductive functions.”
What your article does is expand the definition of sex to include chromosomal variations and sexual anatomy. By all means, list all the intersex variations (XY, XX, XXX, etc..) and reveal all the complexities in our human nature. However, the fact remains that regardless of how abnormal your cellular development state may be, your reproductive function (ability to produce a sperm or an egg) is what determines your sex. And in almost all cases, this is visible at birth (penis and vagina).
Now, you may not like this. You may think that this definition of sex is too narrow and doesn’t allow the human species to express the fullness of their complex nature, but this an evolutionary fact of our species.
So, to sum up, this article does not make a dent in my thinking because sex is defined according to reproductive functions…and there can only be 2 reproductive sexes in a sexually dimorphic species. Hence there can only be male or female. Evidence of abnormalities are just that; abnormalities of the norm.
I am glad you responded to the practical scenario example. You have answered the most important question that I asked earlier: on what basis is a person a girl or a boy? Your answer = ask the child because the child knows best = subjective feeling not biological reality = an ideologically driven view of reality that contradicts objective reality.
I maintain that a “girl”, as defined, is a female (biological) child. Now you may argue that “girl” is a social construct but, 1) see the above hypothetical scenario on how your position confusing reality, and 2) as an example, when you enter a “boy’s” washroom in an elementary school, you find urinals; are urinals a social concept or a biological one consistent with the biological reality of a real biological boy (boy = a young male)?
Here is what I find to be the most disturbing conclusion of your ideas on biological sex and gender. According to you, the basis for identification as a male or female (girl or boy) is absolutely subjective (arguably, not determined on any science, rather determined by behavior, appearance, and subjective feelings).
Sex and Gender become two totally separate spheres of reality. All supposed biological gender stereotypes, such as boys are stronger and more aggressive, are the absolute results of social conditioning rather than biological factors. Further, there are no inherent differences between the biological sexes, hence, it is totally ok to identify with a gender that doesn’t match your biological sex because sex has nothing to do with gender. Gender is liberated from the oppressive grip of biology. Hallelujah!
You are creating two contradictory spheres of reality.
Biological sex is one reality – one that is increasingly become irrelevant, so you say – and your gender identity is another reality. The former is fixed whereas the other is the product of your own subjective creativity. Sex and gender are two separate realities that have no bearing on one or the other. Yet, you admit, biological sex is not entirely irrelevant; its for the doctors and maybe if you want to reproduce, but for everything else, your personal sense of gender identity defines which bathroom, change room, sports team, and pronoun you can use. (It gets me thinking, what’s really the point of sex/gender segregation anyways?)
Contrary to what you think, biology matters significantly. Is that he/she in the article going to be led to believe that he/she is a “real girl” or just a “gendered girl?” What happens when puberty hits? All her girl- friends are getting their periods and starting to naturally develop into the female form. Is he/she going to take hormone blockers and other controversial drugs to stall his/her natural pubescent development? All his/her girlfriends are going to talk about getting pregnant and having a family. How is he/she going to react to these biological realities that were not included in her “gendered girl” reality? Is he/she going to undergo surgery (and likely eliminate the possibility of having children) in order to ease the growing dysphoria that is likely to arise as her sense of self and her biological reality start to collide?
In all seriousness, most likely this biological boy is confused (and her mother, definitely). In most cases, children grow out of their insecurities and gender dysphoria and come to accept the reality that nature has given them. That is the ideal situation: when one’s biological reality is consistent with their sense of self. In my personal opinion, I find it misguided that society should encourage transgenderism at such a young age. Why, because transgenderism is a mental illness (a medically diagnosable condition), with a suicide attempt rate of over 40%. It doesn’t make any rational sense to encourage a mental illness, especially among children.
This, I admit, was a hasty response to your thorough response. I don’t know if I’m allowed to do this, but I am part of a meetup group that debates controversial topics in a respectful and friendly manner. It would be great if you or anyone else of your opinion could join our panel. https://www.meetup.com/Classical-Debating/
This is more bullshit. Saying you’re seriously considering what I’ve said means nothing when nothing you’ve actually written shows any sign of it. And again, you’re trying to spin this as “we’re both doing something wrong here”, but that’s bullshit too: Every single point you’ve brought up, I’ve directly addressed, and in detail. You have not done the same. You just keep repeating the same misconceptions even after I’ve provided evidence to show where they don’t agree with reality; the only sign I have that you’re even reading what I write at all is that you’re slightly tweaking the same points to avoid the more obvious mistakes I’ve pointed out, but still making the disproven claim.
First, I have been crystal clear that biological fact of sex matters in biological contexts. I have repeatedly said that of course a person’s biological sex matters in medical situations, or if you’re thinking about procreating, and so on. What I have said – and there’s no need to “presume” anything, because I have spelled this out explicitly more than once – is that biological sex is completely irrelevant in virtually every social context. And I have backed up that claim by pointing out that you have never, not even once in your life, demanded evidence of a person’s biological sex before interacting with them in a gendered way. You have never, not even once, demanded to see a woman’s genes or genitals before calling her “she”.
Second, it is true that I have no problem using “female” and “male” for both sex and gender, and I am frankly doubtful that you have any problem with it either. I think you’re just pretending to have a hard time with it. Because I have no doubt that outside of this discussion, you would have absolutely no problem using “(fe)male” for other contexts.
For example, I don’t believe you find it “confusing” or “problematic” that we use the term “(fe)male” in grammar. Not even with the added complication of talking about grammar in other languages! I don’t believe you have any problem saying “la voiture” is a female noun and “le livre” is a male noun. I don’t believe you find that “confusing” or “problematic” even though a car doesn’t have a vagina and a book doesn’t have a penis.
And I don’t know how technically-minded you are, but assuming you are at least marginally familiar with electronics, plumbing, or mechanical/structural fasteners, I don’t believe you’ve ever had any problem talking about certain connectors as “male” and others as “female”. I don’t believe you’ve ever heard anyone say “female threading” or “male threading”, and been unable to figure out what to do because you were too baffled by the fact that pipes and bolts don’t have X and Y chromosomes. I don’t believe you’ve ever wondered where the penis is on a male USB connector, and I don’t believe you’ve ever wondered where the ovaries are on a female USB connector.
And I don’t believe if someone started talking about the Male people of Ethiopia, that you’d seriously believe there are no Male women.
I just don’t believe you’re that stupid.
We use the same word in different contexts with different meanings all the time. I don’t believe that you’re so stupid that you find it problematic that a “ball” in table tennis is only around 4 cm in diameter while a “ball” in basketball is over 20 cm in diameter. I don’t believe you get confused that a “ball” in baseball is a sphere while a “ball” in football is a prolate spheroid. I don’t even believe that you have any real problem understanding that when Cinderella went to the “ball”, she wasn’t going to a bouncy sphere. And I don’t think you have any problem differentiating between the different contexts of “the ball of one’s foot”, “I had a ball at the party”, “I got hit in the balls”, or “it’s the bottom of the ninth, two outs, two strikes, two balls”.
You know full well that words are often used in different contexts. You’re not that stupid, and I don’t see what you hope to gain by pretending to be.
I’m… you know what… you got me. I’m so… baffled by this… I don’t even know how to respond. I can’t even understand what point you think you’re trying to make. I can’t even tell, just from the text, whether this is all supposed to be sarcastic – or just parts, or any of it at all. Because, honestly, it’s the kind of thing I’d expect to see as a parody.
I have to guess at what your point is supposed to be… and I admit I’ll probably get it wrong, because like I said… this is just baffling. But it sounds like you’re trying to argue that the word “male” cannot be distinguished between sex and gender because a transmale (a biological female whose gender is male) can’t use the urinal. That because (you seem to think) only a biological male is able to use a urinal in what is supposedly a male gender bathroom, that means it’s impossible to distinguish between biology and gender.
Like I say, I’m just guessing at what your point is. I’m probably wrong, because that all made no sense to me whatsoever. But it’s the best I can suss out of that argument.
So assuming that’s what your point was – that “male” cannot be clearly distinguished between sex and gender because the urinal in a male-gender bathroom is only usable by male-sex people… I mean… there are multiple rebuttals depending on what your point was, and all of them are painfully obvious.
The first rebuttal could be simply that your character in the scenario could simply wait. That’s it. If he needs to use the stall – for whatever reason – he could simply wait for it to be free. It’s the same thing a biological male who needs to do #2 needs to do, so it’s not like there this situation where any waiting for the stall is a signal that maybe this bathroom wasn’t designed for you.
The second rebuttal could be simply that your character could use a stand-to-pee device. It’s not uncommon for transmales to use them. In fact, some stand-to-pee devices are even designed to be visually indistinguishable from a penis without close inspection – they not only allow the transmale to pee standing up, they even add a bulge in the pants. So your transmale character could simply go on right ahead and use the urinal. Without gymnastics.
More importantly, the whole idea that because the urinal is harder (but not impossible!) to use if you’re not a healthy, average, biological adult male, that means the bathroom itself must be for biological males only, and not anyone who is male-gendered… that’s not only ridiculous, it’s offensively ridiculous. Because:
What about a cismale (biological male/gender male) in a wheelchair?
He can’t use the urinal either. So what does that mean in your reckoning? Does that mean the male bathroom isn’t male in the biological sense? I mean, it sounds like you think if a transmale can’t use it, that must mean the male bathroom isn’t male in the gender sense. So it’s the same logic. In fact, a biological woman can use a stand-to-pee device to use the urinal… but a wheelchair-bound cismale still can’t. That actually seems to prove the exact opposite of your point: a transmale can easily use a urinal, while a wheelchair-bound cismale cannot, so the “male” in “male bathroom” can’t mean sex.
And because I suspect that you’re going to try and hand-wave away this problem by saying the wheelchair-bound cismale doesn’t count because he’s “broken” – not a “true man”, in some sense – then how about a short man? Not even necessarily people with dwarfism… just really short guys? What about cismale children? Don’t they count as biologically male?
There are many biological males who can’t use the urinal. And most biological females who want to use the urinal can do so trivially.
Also, there are urinals that biological females can use, too. Yeah, unisex urinals exist.
So I really don’t understand what the problem here is supposed to be. If you’re a man – a person of the male gender, regardless of sex – and you’re healthy, and within the standard range of adult human heights… you can use the urinal in the men’s room if you want to. And if you have some physical handicap that prevents that, or you prefer to use the stall for other reasons, you just wait – doesn’t make you any less of a man. Your biology is irrelevant; no bathroom in the world checks for a Y chromosome. (If you’re not a man, but you’re healthy and within the standard range of human heights, you can still use the urinal in the men’s room if you really want to… which illustrates that gender-segregated bathrooms are a silly anachronism.)
So I’m completely lost as to what your point was supposed to be.
Of course I don’t deny that the human species is sexually dimorphic. And of course procreation requires a male gamete (sperm) and a female gamete (egg).
The problem is that you’re talking about irrelevancies. You are absolutely correct when you say. The problem is, you’re not getting the point of what you said. Because, you’re looking at it back-asswards: “That the human species is sexually dimorphic does nothing to affect the indisputable truth that there are people who have intersex conditions”. We’re not talking about “the human species”. Nor are talking about gametes. We’re talking about people. Individual humans. And general facts about the species do not translate to facts about individuals in that species; I thought we cleared that up with the “humans are Asian” thing. Facts about gametes are also irrelevant to human organisms.
Yes, the human species is sexually dimorphic. Yes, (viable) gametes come in only two sexes (not true, but true enough). All irrelevant. Because people – actual human beings – do not come in just two sexes. The sex of human beings is determined by at least a half-dozen factors, which usually all work in the same direction… but “usually” doesn’t cut it. And you know that humans don’t just come in two sexes, and you knew it even before the link I provided, because you knew the word intersex. You are just refusing to acknowledge that “indisputable truth” because of facts about the species and about cells which are not relevant on the scale of individual humans.
That is a dishonest statement, because you know – or you should know, because I’ve repeated it multiple times now – that the “objective reality” of the person’s biological sex isn’t changed or “contradicted”, and at the same time the “objective reality” of a person’s gender is not connected to the biological sex (as proven by the people who were biologically male but lived as women, and vice versa).
So the truth is more like: On what basis is a person a girl or a boy? Ask the child. The objective reality of their gender is whatever answer they give. The objective reality of their biological sex is utterly unrelated to anything they say, because they may not even know their true biological sex. There is no contradiction, because it’s two orthogonal facts, and orthogonal facts can’t contradict by definition.
No, it is absolutely not subjective. I don’t think you know what the word “subjective” really means. Just because a fact is not based on a physical or biological reality, that does not make that fact subjective. It is a fact that Luke Skywalker got his father’s old lightsaber in Star Wars even though neither “Luke Skywalker”, his father, or lightsabers physically exist in reality. If someone said Luke Skywalker got his father’s iPhone in Star Wars, that would be objectively false – not subjectively. Anyone could make an observation to confirm or deny it.
When someone identifies as a girl or a boy, that is an objective fact. You can confirm that independently of me. The fact doesn’t depend on your state of mind, your preferences, or your perspective. The child either identified as a boy, or they didn’t; the child either identified as girl, or they didn’t; and so on.
And if your argument is that gender is a subjective fact because the person themselves determines it based on non-physical facts… so what? Just because facts determining one’s gender aren’t (necessarily) physical (but they might be!), that doesn’t mean gender is just a whim or opinion. Sexual orientation is also based on non-physical facts (but not really!), and you can’t simply “decide” to be gay or straight. When you identify as straight or gay, you are not stating a preference, you are stating a fact you believe to be true about yourself. Same thing for gender. In the same way a man can choose to screw another man, but can’t choose to be sexually attracted to another man, a biological male can choose to act like a girl, but they can’t choose to feel like they really are a girl. Either they do or they don’t.
You are overstating the case to the level of absurdity. It can be both true that boys are not always biologically male, and that boys are usually biologically male. There’s nothing weird or wrong about that. The “boy” gender has evolved over millenia to be “natural” for biological males, so it’s only natural that most people who identify with it tend to be biological males… but that doesn’t in any way rule out people who aren’t biologically male from feeling that the “boy” gender is a good fit for them. As a result, the general facts about boys that come from biology will be only generally true… but so what? They’ve always been only generally true. It has never been true that all boys are stronger or more aggressive. Just that the average is stronger and more aggressive. That’s still true.
Literally nothing has changed in reality except that your assumption that a boy has a penis is not true. But even that hasn’t changed because it’s never been true. The guevodoces are a (gender-flipped) illustration of that.
So nothing has really changed in reality. There is no epistemological apocalypse here. The only thing that’s really changed is that you are (hopefully) now aware that your assumptions have always been just that: assumptions… not objective facts.
All that’s up to her. It’s not your problem. It’s really none of your business. Her biology matters to her; I don’t see from any of those examples why it should matter to you, or anyone else.
To repeat myself, I didn’t say that biology is never relevant. I said that it is (almost) never relevant to social interactions. Of course her biology is going to be relevant to her in contexts where biology is normally relevant… but none of those contexts you listed are actually social contexts. They’re her own private business. It’s her body, and unless you’re her doctor, that’s none of your damn business.
And I have to point out that your scenarios are already strained. Not all biological women get periods, or are capable of getting pregnant. Are you going to tell a woman who was born with defective ovaries that she’s not a “real girl”?
She’s going to have to deal with the limitations of her biology just like any other woman who isn’t biologically “perfect” – that is, who has some biological condition or another. That’s life.
But it’s her life, not yours. You do not deserve to be privy to any of those biological or medical issues she’s dealing with. All you need to know is that she’s a girl, so you should treat her as one.
Okay, first of all, it’s not necessarily true that most kids with gender dysphoria grow out of it. You have misread the studies (assuming you read studies for this fact). What is true is that most “gender non-conforming” kids grow out of it. But “gender non-conforming” does not equal “transgender”. “Gender non-conforming” includes kids who, for example, are clearly male-gendered (they identify as boys when asked), but like to play with dolls and wear dresses, and want to be treated like girls – basically kids who like to play-act as different genders, to different levels. That’s not the same as being transgendered. Only a small subset of gender non-conforming kids are transgender, and there hasn’t been good research that specifically targets them. It may be true that transgender kids usually grow out of it, or it may not. Science doesn’t know yet.
But even if it is true that the vast majority of transgender kids grow out of it… so what? I don’t understand what your problem here is. If this girl is going to grow out of it… fine. If she’s not, also fine. What’s the problem? Let her wear dresses and play princess for now, and when she’s an adult she can decide whether to fully transition – with medical interventions, if she wants – or revert to being a boy (or man). What’s the big deal?
As an aside, while it is true that some groups still consider transgenderism a mental disorder, that’s changing rapidly. I haven’t been following too closely, but the next ICD – ICD-11 – is supposed to be out shortly, and has removed transgender stuff from the mental illness section (the current ICD is ICD-10, from 1992 – clearly outdated on this topic). But in any case, once upon a time not so many years ago, homosexuality was considered a mental disorder, too, so it’s not like these institutions have a flawless track record when it comes to pathologizing perfectly healthy behaviour.
I’m glad that you mentioned the suicide rate, though I’d point out two things about it. First, the reason transgender people have such a high suicide rate has repeatedly been linked to social stigma. In other words, the reason transgender people are killing themselves is not because they’re transgender… it’s because people like you say things like that they’re not “real girls” and call them “mentally ill”. Second, you wanna know what makes the suicide rate for transgender youth drop dramatically? Accepting them and facilitating their transition. Seriously. A massive survey in the UK found that the vast majority of transgender people were happier after transitioning. Another study (de Vries, 2014) not only found zero regrets or negative results from transgender teenagers who transitioned as they entered adulthood, they found they were actually mentally healthier than the (non-transgender) control population.
So if you actually do care about this girl’s mental health, and you’re not just feigning concern to make a rhetorical point, literally the best thing you could do for her is simply accept her choice. That’s what the science says.
I think we can both agree on this: we are both baffled by each other’s responses!
“biological sex is completely irrelevant in virtually every social context.”
Is this a provable claim? This may be more a matter of opinion. For example, I would never want to wrestle or box against a biological woman because I was raised to think it is wrong to hit a woman. It would also very likely be unfair, since most women I know do not have the same physical strength as me. Nor would I feel comfortable changing in a changeroom with other women because I think it is wrong to reveal private parts to strangers of the opposite sex. I would also protest if I had a girl who changed alongside biological boys. I also would not want to date a “gendered woman” who was actually a biological man because not only would I find that repulsive I would be wasting my time because I intend on having a family one day. I would also prefer to have a woman as a mother because…well..ain’t this one common sense?
These are a few examples where I personally find biological sex very relevant and important in social contexts. Your opinions may vary. Perhaps I’m just a little old fashioned?
Your belief that biological sex is irrelevant in most social context is likely grounded in the following assumption, which I believe to be false: biological sex has little or no influence on gender characteristics. From this assumption follows the following premises and conclusions:
1. Sex and gender are two separate realities, therefore one can be biologically male and, as you say, a “gender female.”
2. Gender is a social construct, therefore gender is solely an invention of your own mind and has no inherent natural reality grounded in biology.
“you have never…demanded evidence of a person’s biological sex before interacting with them in a gendered way.”
As I already stated, there really is no need to demand evidence. Our sexual dimorphic nature creates visible differences in the sexes. I might also add that transgendered people demonstrate that our sexual dimorphic reality creates these visible differences; hence many deliberately change their appearance to look like the opposite sex.
RE: the confusion of using female and male interchangeably for sex and gender:
“For example, I don’t believe you find it “confusing” or “problematic” that we use the term “(fe)male” in grammar…. I don’t believe you have any problem saying “la voiture” is a female noun and “le livre” is a male noun.
I do find this problematic because we don’t use female and male when describing the gender of nouns, we use masculine, feminine, and, in certain languages, neutral.
Thus, your rebuttal on gender in grammar actually supports my claim that male and female are not gender descriptors. Let me explain.
It is grammatically incorrect to say that “la voiture” is a female noun. Rather, it is grammatically correct to say “la voiture” is a feminine noun.
Gender in grammar is used in exactly the same way as gender is used for biological sex. Gender in grammar refers to the noun, just like gender in sex refers to the sex. Hence, in grammar we say the noun (la voiture or il coeur) is either feminine or masculine (not female or male). Likewise, in sex we say that the gender of the sex(male or female) is either masculine or feminine.
Like I said from the beginning, gender and sex are not the same but they refer to each other. Since they refer to each other they cannot use the same language because that would confuse and blur the categorical differences between the two.
“I don’t believe you’ve ever had any problem talking about certain connectors as “male” and others as “female”
This is yet another rebuttal that supports my position that male and female is used specifically for describing biological sex, and not gender.
A male connector is made to “fit into” a female connector. Male and female connectors are actually referring to sex organs (the penis of the male literally is made to “fit into” the vagina of a woman). Thus, male and female copper piping is used as reference to biological sex differences, not gender differences.
“And I don’t believe if someone started talking about the Male people of Ethiopia, that you’d seriously believe there are no Male women.”
Yes, I seriously believe that there are no Male women in Ethiopia. A Male woman cannot exist because it is a contradiction in terms. It is a deliberate confusion of sex and gender (see above two examples).
“But it sounds like you’re trying to argue that the word “male” cannot be distinguished between sex and gender…”
This is what I have been saying from the start.
IMPORTANT: this is the key premise that keeps us talking past each other. If we want to resolve any differences in opinion it has to start at this premise:
The use of the word “male” is used specifically to indicate sex, not gender. Therefore you cannot be a biological male and also the female gender because gender describes the state of being a male or a female.
To support this claim, I used your gender in grammar example. In grammar, the gender of nouns are either masculine feminine or, in some languages, neutral. Thus, in grammar, you ask: “is the voiture a masculine or feminine noun. It is demonstrably incorrect that you ask is; is the voiture male or female? Contrary to this, you referenced to copper piping. When I need a fitting for my hot water tank I need a female adaptor that allows the male pipe to enter into it. It is a very sexual reference and, it is by no coincidence – nor is it a social construct or an accident – that the male adaptors happen to enter the female adaptor just like a penis enters a vagina.
“[you seem to think] only a biological male is able to use a urinal in what is supposedly a male gender bathroom, that means it’s impossible to distinguish between biology and gender.”
Yes, my argument is very simple: the men’s washroom was designed specifically with a biological male in mind because, as I have demonstrated, the word “male” can only mean a biological male. Why is this controversial?
“ there are multiple rebuttals depending on what your point was, and all of them are painfully obvious…The first rebuttal could be simply that your character in the scenario could simply wait.”
This is a deflection from the main point, not a rebuttal.
Let me restate my argument in all its parts:
1.The word “male” refers to biological sex
2.Biological sex refers to reproductive functions
3.The “men”s washroom” is designed specifically for people of the male biological sex.
4.Men’s washrooms contain urinals. Women’s washrooms do not.
5.Urinals for men’s washrooms are designed specifically for men to urinate.
6.Boys have a penis and girls have a vagina
7.It is convenient for a male to pee into a urinal due to the reality of his biological nature.
8.The word “man” means “an adult human male”
9.Therefore, the “men’s washroom” is desinged specifically for people of the male biological sex.
MAIN CLAIM: the urinal in the men’s washroom is evidence that men’s washroom refers specifically to a biological man (not a “gendered man”)
So yes, the transmale can wait. But so what? That doesn’t rebut the main claim that the men’s washroom is designed specifically for biological men because whomever designed the urinal knew that a urinal is for a biological male, not a “gendered male”.
“The second rebuttal could be simply that your character could use a stand-to-pee device.”
With this rebuttal you are admitting my point. The transmale is unable to naturally use the urinal because the men’s washroom was designed to be used by biological men with a penis, not transmen with techno gadgets. They can use all the technology they want, the fact remains that your biological sex as male or female is determined at birth; stand-to-pee devices cannot change that reality.
“What about a cismale (biological male/gender male) in a wheelchair?”
You answered your own question. The cismale in a wheelchair is a biological male who has a physical handicap. A handicap man in the men’s washroom does not change the claim that a urinal is evidence that the men’s washroom was designed for biological men because men = biological men.
“I mean, it sounds like you think if a transmale can’t use it, that must mean the male bathroom isn’t male in the gender sense.”
Yes, that’s exactly the point, as my counter-arguments maintained (urinal designed for biological male). Underlying your confusion is the demonstrated fact that the use of the term “male” in the gender sense is an error (recall the above examples). Your comment perfectly illustrates the resulting confusion when words (male and female) that refer to each other (sex refers to gender and gender refers to sex) are used interchangeably.
“And general facts about the species do not translate to facts about individuals in that species; I thought we cleared that up with the “humans are Asian” thing.”
This statement is usually true, however, sexual dimorphism is not a general fact, it is an absolute fact. There can only be 2 sexes because it takes 2 opposite sexes to have sex and reproduce. Intersex peoples do not constitute a 3rd sex; they constitute as having a development defect. In many intersex conditions, they are still able to reproduce. If an intersex person is able to reproduce, they have to be either male or female to reproduce with the opposite sex. Sex is defined according to reproductive functions.
Also, your “humans are therefore default Asian because 60% of humans are Asian” analogy neglects one crucial point: Sexual dimorphism implies 2 (di=two), whereas the race or ethnicity of peoples (Asian as an example) are many more than 2. With sex, humans are either male or female, If one is not-male, then she can only be female; a female would be the default position for someone born a not-male.
As a side and final observation: why are you so interested in discussing biology? If, as you claim, gender has no bearing on sex (I believe you said their connection is little more than an historical accident), then why all this emphasis on biology? According to your thinking, biology should be completely irrelevant to gender since gender is one thing and biological sex another.
Your arguments concerning subjective and objective differences, as well on questions of identity and transgendered studies (thanks for the references) are interesting; i’ll have to think more about these points.
The key point that I think I demonstrated in this reply is that it is incorrect to use the terms male and female to describe both a biological and gender reality. We are bound by our biology, and no amount of wishful thinking and hopeful prayers can change that reality.
YES! And I’ve proven it multiple times now! To repeat it yet again: There is virtually no social situation that requires one to provide evidence of their biological sex. Or in simple terms: you have, not even once in your life, demanded to see someone’s genes or genitals before treating them like a man or women in any social context.
That is not an “opinion”; I am asserting a fact about reality. And it’s a testable fact, too; if you think the fact is false, then the onus is on you to provide evidence of a situation where biology is actually checked… not assumed… before a gendered interaction.
Here, I’ll even give you a freebie: Sports. In most sports, there are men’s leagues and women’s leagues, and they actually do biological checks to sort you into one league or another.
My response: That is just a misguided traditional practice with no real basis in science. If the logic is that some people can’t compete evenly with others due to biological differences, then the logical thing to do is to sort them based on the biological differences that actually matter. In other words, it makes no sense whatsoever to split people into groups based on penises and vaginas when what really matters is their strength or speed or weight or whatever. They should be split based on their strength or speed or weight or whatever biological difference actually matters. Stronger, faster, more physically robust biological females who are perfectly capable of competing in the major league should be allowed to do so, while weaker, slower, less physically robust biological males could have a sporting chance in the minor league. Not only is that just more logical, it’s actually more fair, and as a side effect it will make for better sports, people the people in the top tier league will actually be the best… and not just the best males.
And as further evidence that the archaic way of doing it is misguided, I point you to the struggles many sporting associations have had dealing with the issue over the years. Just look up the cases of Maria José Martínez Patiño, Dutee Chand, Caster Semenya, or Stella Walsh. They tried just checking genitals… didn’t work out. They tried checking chromosomes… didn’t work out. Now they use testosterone… but even that isn’t working out (for example, Patiño, and there are male athletes whose testosterone is below female normal levels, so should they be competing in the women’s leagues?).
That’s not old-fashioned, that’s just straight-up sexist. Assuming someone wants to wrestle or box with you, and assuming that they have demonstrated they are physically capable – for example, they’re in the same weight class – you’re just being discriminatory at that point to use biological sex as an excuse to not fight them. It’s no different from people who refuse to hire women for positions based on sexist generalizations, even though the woman in question is perfectly capable of the job.
Obviously if someone doesn’t want to fight you, or if they’re physically disadvantaged in some way, then it would be wrong to fight them. But nothing in that sentence involved biological sex. It would be just as wrong to fight a biological male who doesn’t want to fight you, or who is physically disadvantaged in some way. For example, would you fight a biologically male child? Of course not. It’s not the “biologically male” that matters there, it’s the “child” part… because “child” assumes physically frail compared to you (but be careful, because it doesn’t always! there are some very physically capable kids!).
That’s just your preference, likely informed by culture and tradition. In other cultures, people wouldn’t even bat an eyelash at the idea.
But more importantly, how would you determine whether or not any given person is okay to undress with? Do you check their genes or genitals? No, of course not. If you think a person is a woman, you’ll object. But your belief that they’re a woman is not based on biology, it is based on social and cultural cues. You are connecting those social and cultural cues to a biological sex, but that’s just an assumption, not a biological fact.
With regards to the “repulsive” part, that’s simply a matter of preference again. Some people are repulsed by the idea of dating a woman with a certain ethnicity or body shape. or even age.
As for procreating, that is just about the only situation outside of a doctor’s office where a person’s biological sex matters. If procreation is your goal, then of course you need someone you can physically procreate with. In that case, you could just as easily procreate with a transmale (assuming they’ve got the right plumbing), of course. But more to the point, this is a very, very narrow goal. Please don’t tell me that you consider breeding with every woman you cross paths with. That would just be weird. The vast majority of women you meet are not going to be prospective breeding partners, so their biology is of no concern to you.
And even in those fairly rare cases – the women you are considering mating with – I have to point out that you don’t select them as potential partners after you know their biology. Quite the opposite. You select them as potential partners, and don’t find out about their biological status until later. At that point, presumably, you’ll dump them and move on, but the key point here is that you saw them as women, you were attracted to them as women, you flirted with them as women, you started a romantic connection with them as women, and maybe – depending on how you move – you even got physically intimate with them as women… all before you find out about the biological status. That illustrates how unimportant biology is at every social level, other than the very narrow scope of intended procreation.
No, not really. I know a lot of ciswomen who would make terrible mothers. And I know some transwomen who would make wonderful mothers.
That is literally the opposite of what I said. What I said was: The standard genders were created to map to the “standard” sexes. The male gender was designed specifically to be for biological males. So of course the vast majority of biological males will find that the male gender is a perfect match for them.
The fallacy you’re making is the leap from “it usually fits” to “it is the only correct fit and any other choice is wrong”. It’s the naturalistic fallacy; you are failing to make an is/ought distinction.
Both of these statements are wrong, and both of them I’ve already commented on. You’re just repeating the same claims.
1. I already told you that you were overstating the case to an absurd degree to call them “two separate realities”. It’s like you can’t think in anything but absolutes; either gender is determined by sex, or gender is in a completely different reality from sex. Gender is usually informed by sex… but there are two problems with making the leap from that to gender is determined by sex: a) it’s not always true, because some people are transgendered; and b) it can’t always be true, because there are biological sexual realities that are simply not covered by the standard genders.
2. I already explained that just because something is not physically real, and that it’s “solely an invention of the mind”, that doesn’t mean it’s not objectively real. Presumably you are heterosexual… is that “solely an invention of your mind”? Is it just an opinion? Could you change your mind and be gay? Of course not. Sexual orientation is not a crude biological fact – you can’t do a biochemical test for gayness – but it is informed by biological facts; whether you are gay or straight can be influenced by biochemical processes during development, for example. You can take two genetically identical males, then by varying the physical/biochemical and social environment between them, make one straight and one gay. By the same token, when you were developing socially, you looked around at the available genders and found that “male” felt like the one that best fit who you are and what you feel like. But an exact genetic clone of you could have experienced different conditions, and found that some other gender fit them better. Your gender is not solely determined by your biology, but it is not just a whim or an opinion, any more than your sexual orientation is.
Reality does not fit into pigeonholed absolutes. Reality isn’t black or white, or male or female. In trying to force people into two categories, you are, in fact, denying reality. Because the evidence – at every level, from biological to social – is that people just don’t fit into two categories.
You’re literally proving yourself wrong. You are flat-out saying that you’re not using biology for gendered interactions, you’re using mere appearance. And at the same time, you’re admitting that people’s appearance is not necessarily determined by their sex.
So in other words, that pretty lady you’re flirting with… you have no way of knowing whether she’s actually a biological female. You assume. 99% of the time your assumption will simply never be tested. And those very, very, very rare times that it is, it will probably work out, simply by a matter of statistics, because most women are biologically female.
But the bottom line is that you’re just making an assumption, and the whole issue here seems to be that you can’t stand the fact that your assumption isn’t guaranteed to be true.
That’s just splitting hairs, because:
1) It’s not true. The terms “male” and “female” are widely used to refer to grammatical gender, even by experts. A simple google search can confirm that.
2) It’s a trivial matter to reword to make “female” appropriate. For example “la” is the article used for female stuff, not feminine stuff. A boy is “un garçon” regardless of how feminine he is, and a girl is “une fille” regardless of how masculine she is. So if “la” is the article for female stuff, and not feminine stuff, then a “voiture” must be something female.
3) Even if it were true, it wouldn’t change the point. “Feminine” is defined as “of the female gender”, so to say “a feminine noun” is the same as saying “a noun of the female gender”.
4) And most importantly, even if it were true, it really wouldn’t change the point, because you would be assigning “femininity” to a something that isn’t biologically female. That kinda tears apart your whole “gender is based on biology” argument. If a car can be a “she”, why can’t a biological male?
That’s all double-talk that tries to dance around the point, because the gender of the noun or the person is not determined by any innate characteristics of the thing being referred to. Why is a car female? (Or “feminine”, if you prefer – makes no real difference.) What is the difference between “une voiture” and “un char”? Is there something fundamentally different between a car in France and a car in neighbouring Spain (where “coche” is male)?
And if we can just… assign a gender to a car… why is it so crazy to do the same to a person?
And if you want to assert that “gender in sex refers to the sex”, how does that square with the fact that science recognizes more sexes than we have recognized genders for? Are you saying there’s an “intersex” gender now? How does that square with all your assertions about humans being a sexually dimorphic species? Does that mean we should have three bathrooms in every establishment: “male”, “female”, and “intersex”?
I don’t think you really thought that analogy through.
Nice try but it doesn’t really work. Do you have a USB connector handy? Look at it carefully. Is it male or female? Turns out the way USB works is that the female connector – the socket – has the live pins that slide into the male connector – the plug. That metal shroud on the male connector is just for protection, really (usually grounded, as casing usually is, but not always).
That ain’t all. Look at the male power supply plug on just about any modern electronic device. It’s usually a tube. The female connector has a pin that goes into the male connector, and that’s what supplies the power.
In point of fact, in both these types of connectors and many others, the terms “male” and “female” don’t refer to the actual physical configuration of the data or power transmission components. They just refer to how it sorta-kinda looks, in the usual configurations. Which is basically the same how the terms are used in a human gender context – doesn’t matter whose what actually slides into what, all that matters is the general impression they give to casual onlookers.
*facepalm* Maybe I overestimated your intelligence after all.
If this is the “key premise that keeps us talking past each other”, then the problem here is clearly you. Because your premise is flat-out wrong. The word male is not used “specifically to indicate sex, not gender”. That’s just plain false. It’s obviously false. I’ve already proven that repeatedly, from several different angles – everything from the dictionary to demonstrating situations where “male” is used in situations that have absolutely no connection to biology. But – as per usual – you’re just ignoring all the evidence against you and simply repeating the same disproven claims over and over.
Once again, this is not us “talking past each other”. This is me pointing out reality, and you ignoring it and repeating the same disproved claims over and over.
It’s “controversial” because it’s fucking wrong! And I’ve already shown why!
No, it’s a rebuttal, because biological males often have to wait to use the stall rather than the urinal, so there is clearly nothing about a biological female doing the same that makes her incapable of using the bathroom.
Your point would only be valid if it were true that all biological males and only biological males could use the urinal. If only biological males could use the urinal, but not all of them, that would mean by your logic that there are some cismen who couldn’t use the men’s room; if all biological males could use the urinal but not only biological males, then ciswomen could use the men’s room. But since the case is that not all biological males can use the urinal, and most people who aren’t biological males can also use the urinal, the urinal is clearly not a selector for biological maleness. It simply can’t be.
1. Demonstrably wrong. Just get a damn dictionary.
2. Bullshit. Any biologist will tell you that a person’s biological sex is determined by at least a half dozen things, some of which have nothing to do with reproduction (such as hormones).
3. I’ve already explained why that simplistic characterization doesn’t hold up.
4. Also wrong. There are many men’s rooms that don’t have urinals, and there are many women’s rooms that do.
5. This premise is not technically wrong, but it’s pointless. Because of their biology, most adult biological males could pee into just about anything less than a metre off the ground and within a metre or two laterally. So saying that urinals were “designed for men” is disingenuous. If biological males can pee anywhere, then the important thing is not whether males can use a urinal, but whether females can’t. But they can. So the premise is not only of no help to the argument, it actually undercuts it.
6. By making a statement like this in your argument, your argument is circular. (Also, the statement itself is wrong.)
7. Another premise that is technically not wrong, but pointless. Depending on the urinal design, they’re just as convenient for biological females to use.
8. Once again, by making this part of your argument, you’ve made your argument circular, and thus, worthless.
9. Wasn’t this premise 3? Your whole “argument” is a spaghetti mess.
And finally, to repeat – yet again – the rebuttal that you’ve completely ignored – as per usual: If a transmale wants to use a urinal, even one that wasn’t designed with accessibility in mind (so it’s hard for short men or disabled men to use), he can do so. And they do. All the time. So your whole argument is not only a confused, circular mess of wrongness… it’s just plain bullshit that is disproved simply by asking a transmale what he does. You’re just ignoring reality; that’s the only way this “argument” makes any sense.
For fairness, here’s mine:
Conclusion: Categorization by an individual’s sex has no scientific basis. Categorization is a social phenomenon, and the purpose of gender categories is to simplify and add efficiency to social interactions. An individual’s gender category will be heavily influenced by their biology (as everything else about them is), but biology is not the only or last word – not only is biological variation too broad, environmental and social factors have strong influence too.
The bottom line is exactly what we observe in reality. Gender categories were originally defined for sexual purposes; gender categories defined the socially acceptable parameters of who could fuck whom. (Even in societies with more than two genders – like the Male people of Ethiopia, incidentally – it’s still all about sex. The third gender of the Male, “ashtime”, are people men can fuck when social rules prohibit them from fucking women.) So, unsurprisingly, people tend to identify with the gender category most often linked to the sexual elements of their biology. But someone might very well decide that a different category suits them better, and of course people with ambiguous sexual biology may decide no category quite fits them.
As I said, that’s exactly what we observe in reality.
If that’s your “point” then your “point” is that a biological man with a penis on crutches is… apparently not a biological man with a penis. Because they need a “techno gadget” to use the urinal. They can’t use it “naturally”. Neither can a really short biological male with a penis; your argument seems to imply that a biological male with a penis has to be above a certain height to be a biological man with a penis. If they have to use a “techno gadget” like a step-stool, they’re no longer biological males with penises?
In other words, your “point” is ridiculous, and obviously wrong.
No, actually, what my comment illustrates is your confusion – the confusion created by your insistence on a position that clearly doesn’t work. Because as I’ve explained (and, as you do, you’ve ignored), a transmale can trivially use any urinal in any men’s room, anywhere in the world. And the more accessible the urinal is – that is, the more biological males that can use it without technological assistance – the more likely the transmale can use it without technological assistance… or in other words, as should be tautologically obvious, more accessible urinals are easier for more men to use.
There’s simply no confusion when you use the standard terminology used by scientists, academics, and most of the damn world in practice. You only create confusion when you try to pigeonhole people into your two strict categories… which, if you were a sensible person, that would be a signal to you that your categories are wrong. But instead, you’re trying to tell me that it’s not your categories that are wrong, it’s the world. Yeah, no, not swallowing that.
Male bathrooms are male gender bathrooms. That’s so clearly obvious, I’m baffled that you can’t see it. You know you’ve never had to show your genes or genitals to use one. You’re in serious denial if you think that only biological males can use the male bathroom. If a cisfemale disguised herself as a man well enough to pass, she would be able to walk right into the male bathroom and use it without anyone even noticing. Yes, she could even use the urinal if she used a “packer” (an artificial penis some transmales use to stand-to-pee, and to create a realistic bulge in the pants). All you need to do to use the male bathroom without any comment or issue is to be convincingly male-gendered.
And it’s just as true for the gender-swapped case. If a cismale were able disguise himself convincingly as female-gendered, he could waltz right into the female washroom, use it, and waltz right out. His biology is completely irrelevant. What gets him into the bathroom is passing as female-gendered.
Just think about it. Think about who can walk into which washroom without raising a fuss:
You see? Even if a person is biologically female, if they even just appear to be male gendered, they will be stopped if they try to enter the female washroom. But if a person appears to be female gendered, she can walk in without a fuss, regardless of whether she’s biologically female or not. You can keep trying to force your square peg into a round hole until you get bored of it, but the facts won’t change. Gender-segregated bathrooms are gender-segregated, not sex-segregated. There is no such thing as “sex-segregated bathrooms”; there is no bathroom in the world that requires checks of your genes or genitals before you can use it. And I defy you to provide me with evidence of one.
You have already acknowledged that intersex individuals exist. You know there are individuals that have characteristics of both sexes… which means they’re not dimorphic. So it is clearly not an absolute fact.
Okay, first of all, telling people they’re “defects” is not acceptable. It’s just not. Ever.
And to be clear, we are talking about people. We are talking about individuals. This was the point I made that didn’t seem to sink in with you. Facts about cells or species don’t necessarily have any connection to facts about individuals. There is nothing strange about that; facts about letters and sentences don’t necessarily have any connection to facts about words – for example, words can be parts of speech, but neither letters nor sentences are. Your fixation on the gametes and the species is blinding you to the reality that exists at the level of individuals.
But most importantly, your quixotic quest to pigeonhole all people into two categories when they clearly don’t fit is not just offensive, it’s obviously wrong. You say sex is “defined according to reproductive function” and try to use reproduction as the categorization factor… but like any other factor you’ve tried, it just doesn’t work. How do you categorize people who are XX/XY but unable to reproduce? You say everyone must fit into one of those two categories, male or female. So where do those people fit biologically? What about a “true hermaphrodite” who has functioning male and female reproductive elements? Are they male or female? What about a pair of genetically identical twins who in the early stages of development were modified with different chemical conditions by scientists so that one developed a working penis while the other developed a working womb? That was a technological intervention that determined their sex, so how would that be any different from a post-op transsexual who ended up with functioning reproductive plumbing (which we can’t do yet, but isn’t technologically impossible in theory)?
The bottom line is that your two categories just don’t work. They simply cannot capture the incredible diversity that comes with human biology, especially once you add technological intervention to the mix.
Scientists no longer use two categories for a damn good reason. Your ideas are unscientific nonsense.
Nice try, but no. There are only two situations in my example, too: Asian and non-Asian. Either you’re born in Asia or you’re not. Sure you can add more categories by breaking non-Asians into subcategories: American, Australasian, etc.. But you can do the exact same thing with biological males and females too. You can say people are either male or not-male, then break “not-male” up into subcategories: like XX, XXX, XO, and so on; or fertile females, non-fertile females, and intersex; or any other subcategorization you want.
Why am I interested in discussing biology? Are you fucking kidding me? You’re the one claiming that there are but two true genders, and they are literally determined by the only two possible sexes a human being can have because humanity is a sexually dimorphic species. You’re the one bringing biology into the discussion.
I am only discussing biology for the purpose of showing you that your understanding of biology is plain wrong. You have very ridiculous ideas that any real biologist would laugh at if you tried to argue them. The idea that human individuals can only be male or female because the species is sexually dimorphic is comedy, not science. I provided you with an article from one of the world’s most respected science journal that explained that, and you brushed it off because it didn’t agree with your beliefs.
Now you’re bothered by all the biology I’ve presented because it all contradicts what you want to be true, but of course, you’re not modifying your beliefs. No, you’re just ignoring the biological facts and repeating the same claims over again.
The evidence is crystal clear here: Your position is simply not based in reality, not in scientific/biological reality, and not in social reality. Your attempts to force reality into your preconceived notions simply don’t work. You say “male” refers to sex and not gender, but the existence of people who call themselves male but in no way fit into any narrow definition of sexual maleness – either because they’re transgendered, or because their biology just doesn’t pigeonhole as “male” in any sensible way – should be all it takes to show you that you’re wrong. Seriously, if you were as rational as you like pretending to, the existence of a single person with an XX genome with SRY activation so they have a working penis would be the end of this discussion… and there are many of those (not to mention many other variations!). Reality simply doesn’t fit your model.
If your tactic is to exhaust me into submission then you are winning! Evidence of this exhaustion is below….
Recall at the beginning of this debate the article: In the Heart of the Catholic Education Trans Controversy? The issue was about a biological boy who identified as a girl, and the initial refusal of the Catholic school board to accommodate this self-identified girl.
Your position is that one’s gender identity “isn’t necessarily defined by their genitalia.” Hence, if the biological boy chooses to identify as a girl, then he should be allowed. Full stop.
The reason I maintain this to be false is because it is a contradiction in terms. For example, it is inconsistent for a biological boy to identify as a girl because the definition of a biological boy (young male) contrasts with the definition of a girl (young girl). Simply put, a boy would be mistaken if he were to identify as a girl.
To accept that a biological boy can become a girl would be to accept a conclusion contrary to science because males and females are defined according to their biological distinctions.
**This point is critical: The problem with our entire debate is that we are both beginning from different premises. More specifically, we are using different definitions of the same word – this is why we are talking past each other. We cannot proceed unless we have a clear understanding of our definitions.
I have consistently maintained the following definitions:
1. Humans are sexually dimorphic, therefore there can only be 2 sexes, male and female.
2. Sex is defined according to reproductive functions, of which there can only be two (sexual dimorphic)
3. Gender is the state of being male or female.
You obviously -and energetically!!!- disagree.
To refute my position, you have consistently employed two main tactics: 1) find exceptions that disprove my rule, and 2) redefine (or ignore) key definitions to suit your argument. Tactic #1 only works when our arguments begin with the same premise. Tactic #2 explains why we are talking past each other: we have different understandings of different words.
Re: tactic #1:
I say there are only 2 sexes. You refute this claim by citing an array of different biological sex combination consisting of sex hormones, chromosomes, ambiguous genitalia, etc. You also cite a reputable (peer-reviewed?clear ideological bias?) source that argues that sex determination is much more complicated than previously assumed. However, both me and your source agree on one fundamental fact: “sex can be defined a number of ways.”
How, then, do we define sex? If we define it according to a myriad of various biological parameters, then a spectrum of biological sexes exists. Due to the almost unlimited combination of biological sex characteristics, we might as well default to the gender identity parameter: “in other words, if you want to know if someone is male or female, it may be best just to ask.” According to this definition, you are correct, it is false to claim only 2 sexes because, as you have demonstrated, there are a multiplicity of biological sex combinations ranging from the anatomical to the cellular level.
What happens, however, when we define sex according to the Merriam-Webster definition: Sex; “either of the two major forms of individuals that occur in many species and that are distinguished respectively as female or male especially on the basis of their reproductive organs and structures”?
According to this definition, there are only 2 sexes, male and female. Further, these two major forms of individuals are distinguished according to their reproductive organs and structures. To support this definition, let’s look at the evolutionary record. If we found that our species reproduced asexually, then male and female could not exist, however, since our species reproduces sexually via the union of two, then two natural categories exist. We call these two categories male and female according to our respective reproductive roles.
Let’s also look again at your suggested source and rebuttals. Your nature article still maintains male and female distinctions when describing intersex conditions: “The oldest woman carrying male DNA was 94 years old.” or “microchimaerism… happens when stem cells from a fetus cross the placenta into the mother’s body.” In both cases we have cellular intersex conditions, yet, both me and the author agree that we are still talking about two women. Further, consider all your sporting examples of intersexed women, the first 3 are all women with intersex conditions, the last, Stella, is still a controversy due to the severity of her intersex condition (enter your obvious rebutal here). Even your true hermaphrodite example supports the binary model: they exhibit characteristics of both male and female, not a 3rd or other sex.
So the question is: do you agree with the above definition of sex? If not, then please explain exactly how you define sex and provide supporting arguments.
If I maintain that only 2 sexes exists, and they are male and female based on their reproductive organs, then what about all those intersex conditions? Interesex conditions become exceptions to the rule, or, as your article states, “differences or disorders of sex development (DSDs), in which their sex chromosomes do not match their sexual anatomy.”
Intersex conditions do not constitute a third sex, nor do they undermine the claim that humans are sexually dimorphic and something other than “either of the two major forms of individuals…distinguished on the basis of their reproductive organs and structures.” Intersex conditions are DSDs. A disorder, as your article suggests, implies an order, just like an abnormality implies a normality. What is this order or normality? You guessed it: male and female.
An order to sexual reproduction exist and it can only happen via sex organs. Do you know anyone who was conceived with something other than the union of a male sperm and female egg? Humans have sex with sexual organs, not chromosomes or hormones.
(your obvious rebuttal: so what about those who are unable to reproduce, are they not male and female??? No, they are just sterile or have some other DSD preventing them from reproducing. That is a fact, their existence does not negate the fact that we are a sexually dimorphic species. Just like the existence of a person born with a 3rd arm does not negate the fact that we are a 2-armed species, nor does the existence of a person who walks on all 4’s evidence that we are not a upright walking on 2-legs species, whatever the technical terms may be).
Here’s a further explanation. The process of sex has to do with our sexual organs. The word “sexual” has to do with the sexes, or sex, which has to do with our reproductive organs. If all this is true, then our understanding of sexual orientation has binary written all over it. For example, L(lesbian is a homosexual between females)G(homosexual between males)B(sexual attraction to both sexes)T(transgendered identifies with the opposite sex and changes appearance to look “like” the opposite sex, not “be” the opposite sex). The LGBT acronym is defined according to the sexual binary.
So, to conclude, the reasons why your rebuttals against the traditional binary sex categories fail is because you are using an incorrect definition of sex.
To refute this claim you will have to challenge the definition of sex and provide an alternative definition of sex that is biologically consistent with our evolutionary history.
After the sex comes the gender! (Assuming they are related at all,correct?: “Connecting gender to sex at all is arguably just a historical accident”. Tell that to a transgendered person.)
Now I didn’t touch the gender topic, but I did provide a definition that you can refute and provide an alternative definition that we can explore. Regrettably, I also had to avoid your pages and pages of previous rebutals (especially the bizarre ones regarding usb female “sockets” (see definition of “socket”), power adaptors, gender in grammar and linguistic history, and an admittance to “reword” definitions to suit your argument: all evidence of a terrifyingly strong ideological commitment to something other than the truth).
Let’s see if it’s possible to proceed with definitions of those two key terms (sex and gender) before we return to our usual rants and digressions.
What is it with people coming into my spaces – the places where I live and work – and when things don’t go their way, they complain that I’m bogging them down? It’s like you’ve walked into a restaurant, engaged the waiter in conversation, then when you got pissed off, blamed the waiter for keeping you there when you have better things to do. Are you fucking kidding me? That’s not just downright rude, that’s bafflingly out of touch with reality.
You came into my place of business and started this. If this is so exhausting to you, you’re perfectly welcome to leave… but I’m not going anywhere because – to repeat – this is my place of business.
You can keep repeating that as many times as you like, until you “exhaust yourself into submission” if that’s what you want. It won’t make it true. It is only a “contradiction in terms” if you use your own idiosyncratic definitions of those terms… which I’ve already shown (repeatedly) that:
No, they are not, and I’ve already provided the proof to demonstrate this. You simply rejected the science because it didn’t agree with your beliefs. Can’t help you there. The science is the science. I am not going to start ignoring the science just because you don’t like its conclusions.
And I have consistently, and repeatedly, shown why they are wrong. Yet you keep reasserting them. This is how our conversation has gone:
YOU: [makes assertion]
ME: [takes assertion apart piece by piece in great detail, showing why it doesn’t jibe with science, doesn’t match reality, and doesn’t make sense internally]
YOU: Hm, it looks like we’re having trouble communicating. So let me try this a different way: [makes same assertion again]
The reason we’re not getting anywhere is not because we’re having trouble communicating or finding common ground or anything so abstract. It’s because you flatly refuse to accept that your position is plain wrong, even after it has been so demonstrated a half-dozen different ways. You’ve rejected science – flat-out and explicitly – and you insist that I reject it too so we can be on the same page. No. Fuck no. Not going to happen. I stick with science.
If you can’t make your case without defining your conclusions to be true, then you don’t have a case.
That is simply not true.
I have refuted your assertions in several different ways. I have used tactic 1, yes… because that’s just the obvious way to show someone their rule is wrong. I have never done 2; that is what you are doing. In fact, quite literally so: you tried presenting dictionary definitions to bolster your case, and I showed that you’d misrepresented the definitions you yourself presented. The closest thing to 2 that I’ve done is insist on the definitions used by science, academia, and the general public… in defiance of your attempts to use you own, idiosyncratic definitions. I haven’t even bothered to try to define the terms… unlike you, who has made it the centrepiece of your whole argument, despite accusing me of doing it. I’ve just referred you to dictionaries… which I don’t even like to do for technical terms, because dictionaries usually flub technical terms, but in this case the understanding is so widespread and so widely acknowledged (for everyone but you, it seems), that it works. (Up to a point, as your Merriam-Webster example illustrates.)
But I have also used multiple other tactics. For example, I have frequently used reductio ad absurdum, where I take one of your assertions at face value, and show how that leads to absurdities. I have also used the Socratic method, where I tried (for example) to ask you to pin down exactly how you think science “defines” people as male or female. Remember? I gave you the example of an XY person who got pregnant (which really happened). You never really gave a clear answer, but it seems like you define a person as male if they can get someone pregnant and female if they can get pregnant. And that’s not all. I have also provided proof when you requested it (multiple times), pointed out errors in your arguments (like when you misunderstood the difference between subjective and objective facts), and explained my own arguments in simple, point form (without you even asking me to!).
So it is simply flat-out bullshit to say I’ve done nothing but point out exceptions, and it is complete bullshit to say I’ve been “redefining” anything… because I’ve never defined anything; I’ve just pointed you to established definitions. The one here trying to define their argument into existence is you… and the evidence of that is blatant because pretty much every post of yours contains a section where you STRESS… with multiple asterisks… with words like “key” and “critical”… than your definitions must be accepted.
Fucking Nature!!! The world’s most respected multidisciplinary scientific journal!!! (The only other candidate for that title is Science. Both journals have roughly the same impact factor, and they jockey back and forth for the #1 spot; I think Nature is currently in the lead. Their impact factors are at least twice the #3 position.) There is literally no better scientific source that I could possibly give you!
And even better, that was an article written specifically to clarify and simplify a broad range of findings and the general scientific consensus. I could point you to a more technical article, but… well, it would be technical, and far too narrowly focused to see the big picture. I could point you to stuff written by actual developmental biologists – because I know some – but you’d probably just accuse them of ideological bias, and in any case the word of one biologist, no matter whether it’s their expertise or not, really can’t hold a candle to an overview of multiple fields.
It is literally impossible to produce better evidence of scientific support for a position than what I gave you. And you won’t accept it. Think about that.
Seriously? I mean… is this a joke? Are you trolling me now? I offer Nature, and you reply with… Merriam-Webster? I offer the position on biology, sex, and gender featured in the world’s most respected scientific journal, and you reply with… one of the definitions from a general use dictionary?
You won’t accept Nature as a source for science… but you want me to accept Merriam-Webster? Are you fucking kidding me?
Okay. Okay, let’s test your source. Let’s try the word… “bucket”. Here’s Merriam-Webster’s definition of “bucket”:.
So, according to Merriam-Webster, this is a bucket. And this is also a bucket.
Or maybe it’s just that dictionaries have limited use; they’re great for giving you the gist of what a word means, but are not so great at giving the precise, technical definition. I just pulled “bucket” off the top of my head; my second choice was “wrench”, in which case I’d point out that a screwdriver fits the definition, and I can go on and on and on. Also, all English dictionaries are descriptive, not prescriptive, meaning they give the definitions people generally use, whether they’re technically correct or not. That’s why Merriam-Webster defines “peruse” as both “to examine or consider with attention and in detail” (the correct definition) and “to look over or through in a casual or cursory manner” (the widely used misdefinition).
You are being deceitful. You and the author happen to agree on the same fact, but that doesn’t mean you agree on that fact for the same reasons. In particular, you are pretending the author identified those women as women in line with your essentialist view of biology. It’s just as likely that the author considered them women merely because they considered themselves women; that is, their gender was female, regardless of their sex. And that seems the far more likely interpretation, given that the author is writing an entire article about why biological sex is not as simply determined as you’d like it to be.
No, they didn’t all have intersex conditions. One simply had abnormally high testosterone. And that was the point. It is simply impossible to come up with neat ways to categorize people into two sexes. No matter what you try, there will be a section of the population that doesn’t fit your categories in a sensible way. Smarter people than you or I have tried for generations, and have failed. And that’s why science has given up on the endeavour, and moved on to accept that sex is a spectrum.
So which sex are they? You’re the one saying that all humans have to be one or the other. So which are they?
I don’t think you understand what the word “binary” means; this is one of those words you might want to use a dictionary for. When something is binary, it is either 1 or 0. It is not 1 and 0. And it is not neither 1 nor 0. It is exactly one of the two options: 1 or 0. Two. Binary. Not three. Not four. So if you want to categorize humans according to their sexual characteristics, and 1 means female characteristics while 0 means male characteristics, there is no way to describe hermaphrodites in that system. You need at least a third option – trinary.
But even that’s not enough because it doesn’t include people who lack both male and female sexual characteristics (for example, people born without testes or ovaries). So you need one bit for “has male characteristics”, and another bit for “has female characteristics”. “Basic males” would be 01, “basic females” would be 10, hermaphrodites would be 11, people with none of the defining characteristics would be 00. So forget binary. We haven’t even begun seriously consider the complexities of what counts as male/female sexual characteristics – we’re pretending that male/female characteristics are a simple, single thing to consider – and we’re already at quaternary.
No, I do not agree with your idiosyncratic definition of sex. I define sex exactly the way modern science does. The supporting argument for why I do that: because that’s how modern science does it.
But are they male or female? You didn’t actually answer the question, you avoided it. Your classification doesn’t work, and this is just one of the ways to show that. If you define “male” and “female” in terms of reproductive capability, then someone incapable of reproducing, by your own classification system is neither male nor female. Yet you assert every human must be either male or female, or possibly some “defective” variant of one of them. You see? It’s incoherent. And it gets even more incoherent if you add other considerations beyond reproductive capability to the mix. Science now says that sex is a spectrum, and scientists didn’t come to that conclusion for amusement. They did it because the old models just didn’t work. There is simply no way you can define “sex” where you end up with two neat categories… you will always have people that can’t fit into either category.
Your arm example makes no sense, because you crafted it to buttress this misguided notion you have that I’m saying that there are more than two types of human gametes. As I have repeatedly tried to explain to you, the fact that there are only two possible (functional) gamete sexes, while undeniably true, is utterly irrelevant to the question of the sex of a human being. You keep repeating that the fact that there are only two possible gametes means that there are only two possible types of humans. Your position is as ridiculous as saying that there are only 4 possible nucleobases in human DNA, therefore there are only 4 possible humans.
Your arm example could be saved, though, by modifying it slightly. You are essentially arguing that all humans are either left-handed or right-handed… there are absolutely no other possible categories, because humans have only two arms, and one of them must be dominant. Meanwhile, I’m pointing out people who are ambidextrous, people who were born without arms (and thus, can’t be either left- or right-handed), people who are left-handed for some tasks but right-handed for others, people who were born left-handed but changed dominant hand at some point in their lives, people who grew up thinking they were left-handed and always felt awkward then one day tried their right hand and it just felt right, people who’ve grown a third arm out of their chest with a laterally symmetric hand, and that is their dominant hand, and so on. Basically, I’m pointing out that handedness isn’t as simple as you’re trying to pretend that it is.
No, not always. It’s not uncommon for people to get off from fingering an asshole or even something like licking toes. Castrated men can still have orgasms. Hell, people have sex with inanimate objects. No matter how you try to frame it, the world is just much more complicated than your narrow view.
Now, the process of reproduction always involves sexual organs. But that’s not the same as sex. And it certainly has nothing to do with homosexuality (which is where you were going with this). Your terminology is sloppy, as usual, and it made your point incoherent.
Four things. First, the accepted abbreviation is now LGBTQ. And the “Q” usually means “queer”, which usually means a rejection of traditional sexual or gender identities.
Second, “transgender” means more than just “identifying as the ‘opposite’ sex”. That is one definition, and it is the narrowest. But the broader definition is just “not identifying as the gender assigned at birth”. You’re a fan of Merriam-Webster; see for yourself how they define it. That broader definition accounts for non-binary genders and sexes.
Third, even putting your use of the narrow definition aside, your definition of transgender is wrong. Transsexual people are transgender, too.
Fourth, your definition of transgender isn’t the only definition that’s wrong, because while you have have defined lesbian (for example) as “lesbian is a homosexual between females”, you obviously mean “female” in the sense of “female sex” (as evidenced by your definition of bisexual). In reality, real-life lesbians may mean it in the sense of “female gender“. Because some lesbians are fine with trans women. And not only that, some trans women are lesbians. Google it; it’s not even that rare. So your whole premise is bullshit: lesbian (for example) is not just about your imaginary binary; lesbian just means “someone whose gender is ‘woman’ who likes other people whose gender is ‘woman’ regardless of the biological sex of either“. Similarly for the other terms.
So no, the LGBT(Q) abbreviation is not defined according to “the sexual binary”, whether you include the Q or not. “Transgender” includes everyone who doesn’t identify with their birth-assigned gender, including people who identify with third genders, people who are gender-fluid, and so on. And all of the other terms are about gender, not sex (broadly; as always, individuals may have their own preferences).
I am using the definition of sex used by modern science. That’s only “wrong” from your perspective because you are denying science.
Or I could just point you to the science. Which I already did, and which you’ve already rejected.
Look, you want to “agree on terms”? Fine. But I have stated that I refuse to discard science to accept your idiosyncratic definitions, so if you want to tell me that my definitions are wrong and yours are right, you’re not going to get anywhere just asserting stuff you believe yet again. Instead, here’s my challenge.
I have presented you with an article from the world’s most respected, peer-reviewed, multidisciplinary scientific journal, that explains in great detail (for an article intended for general consumption), with scientific sources provided, the general state of science with regards to sex and gender. You chose to respond by piling on assertion after easily rebutted assertion, all supported by… Merriam-Webster, LOL.
Here’s my suggestion to you. You wasted your time doing all that. Because all you needed to do was provide me with just ONE peer-reviewed article in a respected scientific journal in a relevant field sometime after, say, 1980. Just one. Just… one… fucking… article… or a meta review, or anything like that… in a relevant field from a respected scientific journal that says:
No, I don’t want to hear your opinions or your reasoning on the matter. I’ve heard enough with all the times you’ve reasserted it, and it’s incoherent. You asked me for scientific support for my position. I supplied it. Now I ask the same.
This should be simple. The topic of gender and transgender has been huge in the public mind recently. If it’s really true, as you claim, that science says there are only two possible human sexes and they are inextricably linked to the only two possible human genders, you should have a field day. And these topics are discussed in multiple scientific fields – everything from biology to anthropology to psychology. If science really is on your side, you will have a wealth of papers to plumb.
So don’t waste your time and mine repeating the same bullshit “key” opinions that it is “critical” I acquiesce to before your position make any sense. You say science is on your side? Prove it.
You still haven’t provided me with your definition of “sex” and “gender”. Why is this?
Here’s my working theory: You are refusing to construct a definition (a precise, technical definition) out of fear that it will exclude. Perhaps this is why you consistently default to science journals and mass appeals (sources that, like you, provide no working definitions); deflecting to other sources to do the dirty work for you. You see, definitions set descriptive boundaries of what a word means. Here’s the problem: the moment you create a definition you will find someone who doesn’t identify with that definition. You can’t have this, because yours is an ideology of radical inclusivity, and definitions exclude.
I hope this theory is false. Regardless, understanding becomes impossible if terms are not accurately defined (as your bucket examples illustrates). This is our condundrum: we talk past each other because we are using the same words (sex and gender) with different meanings.
So, I ask again – I beg! – please provide a working definition of the words “sex” and “gender.”
That’s all I ask. In return – since I am on your turf! – I will gladly respond to your challenge….although after I entertain some of your rebuttals.
Disclaimer: I know you are not interested in reasoning anymore. You said: “No, I don’t want to hear your opinions or your reasoning on the matter”..so, by all means, ignore attempts at reason and skip to “Part 2”. (Reason, who needs it anyways!!)
Here’s my first counter-rebuttal to my observation that although the author of your Nature article argues that sex is a spectrum, she still uses the binary terms of male and female.
“you are pretending the author identified those women as women in line with your essentialist view of biology. It’s just as likely that the author considered them women merely because they considered themselves women; that is, their gender was female, regardless of their sex…(note, you, too are still using the binary).”
It’s a nice try, but it’s unsupported. All you have done is interpret terms to suit your particular ideological perspective. To be fair, so did I. Which interpretation is more probable given the context?
For starters, she mentions a “46 year old pregnant woman.” Did the author first ask the pregnant “woman” if “she” self-identified as a “woman”, or did the author just assume “she” was a “woman” because “she” just happened to be pregnant? I mean, in my world only women can get pregnant, but in your world…well…I guess it’s possible that a “gendered male” could also get pregnant(!!!).
I think it’s more likely that this “46 year old pregnant woman” was labelled a woman according to her biology because this an article about biology (see title of article and review sources), and not some radical gender theory (I wonder, did you even read the article?). The author would be inconsistent if she then began identifying subjects according to their gender identities. So there is no need to impose your radical gender theories on a scientific work. Science is science, gender theory…well…that’s not really science (I think we can both agree on that).
There are many more rebutalls that I would love to entertain (and they are entertaining!) but, again, a) most depend on how you define sex and gender, and b) some are just mis-defined and re-written terms (example: see def. of transgender: it says they differ (opposite) from the “sex”, not “gender”, at birth. Or claiming I said sex is based on the “ability to reproduce” when in fact I wrote “on the basis of their reproductive organs and structures.”)…Indi, you are making it really difficult for me to take you seriously if you create needless strawmen (misprint my words), can’t distinguish differences between categories (an article and a definition compliment, not contradict), confuse things as simple as gender in grammar, and can’t even provide accurate, let alone, working definitions.
Now onto your challenge!
Your challenge: provide one peer-reviewed article in a respected scientific journal, post 1980, that says.
1.Only 2 sexes exist
2. Only 2 genders
3. Sex determines gender.
*For the sake of argument, a “scientific journal” refers to the natural sciences, as opposed to the social sciences (I think we can both agree that gender theory, as an example, is not a real science).
1. Only 2 sexes exist. (Well, that depends how you define sex, doesn’t it?)
Here’s one: Why there are, in fact, only 2 sexes. By Lawrence D. Hurst. Proceedings of The Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences. April 1996.
Here the author compares asexual, bisexual (two sexes) and trisexual (3 sexes) reproductive strategies and concludes that “reproductive strategies with more than two sexes are improbable (i think there are some example of more than 2 sexes in some ants, bees and fungi populations, but not us, humans). He also explains the conditions that led asexual organism to evolve into sexual organism; bettersaid, the origins of sex.
It’s a bit technical, but have a look yourself (just google title).
Perhaps the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate that more than 2 sexes exist. If so, please provide me with an article, post-1980, from a respectable, peer-reviewed, scientific journal that argues that the human species is, in fact, not a bi-sexually reproducing species, but rather a tri (or mutli) sexual species.
You may choose to revert, once again, to your non-peer reviewed journal (F*@kin Nature!) article that, yes, argues that sex is very complicated and that, perhaps, we need to redefine sex to suit all the cellular nuances (perhaps even get rid of sex all-together: the true reductio ad absurdum!). However, does your article actually conclude that more than 2 sexes exist? Does it tell us how many sexes, in fact, actually exist?
The only thing your non-peer-reviewed article does is discuss various intersex conditions, then argue that sex should not be viewed as a binary but rather as a spectrum (all while maintaining the convenient – and oppressive! – man and woman binary terminology. You do the same; you really need to check your privilege!)
But what exactly is a spectrum? Is the term “spectrum” a scientific term? For the sake of fun, let’s just go along with today’s ill-defined and fashionable terminology and see where it takes us.
Yes, I agree, sex is very much a spectrum. Sex, as defined according to reproductive organs and structures, would have “full males” (those able to reproduce) on one side and “full females” (able to reproduce) on the other side. “Lesser males” (unable to reproduce) and “lesser females” (unable to reproduce) would be along the spectrum. Here this sex spectrum is defined according to our capacity to reproduce.
Let’s complicate the sex spectrum and add an example from your Nature article, we have an example of a pregnant woman (touchy point: is it safe for me to assume the author asked if the pregnant woman identified as a woman???) who was found to actually have some male chromosomes. Where does this woman stand according to your spectrum? According to mine, she is still “full woman” (able to reproduce), but perhaps a little less than a full woman due to her abnormal chromosomal reality.
How would you define this woman according to your spectrum? Do you have a particular sex label to identify this woman who is fully able to reproduce but who has male chromosomes? Is this evidence of another sex? What do you call this other sex? Don’t you at least have a name for this newly discovered sexe?
2, Only 2 genders….this depends on how you define gender!
Since we both agree that gender is a social construct, how can I find articles in science magazines that state there are only 2 genders? Gender, unlike sex, is not something you can examine under a microscope. Since scientists are not in the business of dealing with sociological concepts, I don’t think I would be able to find a scientific journal that would state that there are only 2 genders.
For #2, perhaps you could point me to a good article?
3, Sex determines gender…this depends on how you define sex and gender! If I maintain that sex is biological (male and female) and gender are attributes typically associated with being male or female, than sex doesn’t necessarily determine gender. Like I already stated, I can be a feminine male. Although I may display characteristics associated with being of a female, I am still biologically a male.
For #3, please provide link to article
I’m pretty sure the question should be *was* she a biological girl.
Well at least for people who are old enough to go through hormone therapy and whatnot (not sure if this girl you are talking about was old enough), since as far as I understand, hormones can change biology?
I suspect a lot of the dualist attitudes come historically from traditions such as those that “burned witches”, though it is rarely understood that a lot of those “witches” may have also simply been “gays” or “transgenders”, not just “eccentric” or “weird” or “outside the box thinking”, or indeed “unruly”, people.
In turn, this rather too long standing tradition and many of its spawned ideological rationalisations and modes of thought which seem to still linger around in large number today, always conveniently forgetting their own root sources, seems to stem mostly out of a need for militaristic and thus hierarchically simplistic order. The simplistic needs of defence and conquest.
These traps of thinking are thus not exclusive to religionists alone, but to the wider society, atheists included, as they stem from purely corporeal concerns and desires. And the need for everyone to “fall in line”.
The need for everyone to “fall in line” to the point where physical/biological inability to “fall in line” becomes a failing of the power of the “will” to overcome an “affliction”. An “affliction” which the greater proportion of the population seems able to tenuously and precariously “overcome” by an application of the power of the “will”, in service to the mili-hierarchical order.
Or, going even further back, it all may just come from the need of the “tribe” to abandon the “sick” to ensure survival from attack by “nature”.
You are a disgusting person, denying a human’s right to be considered fully human without being labeled a defect.
You can’t even separate your mental views of intersex and transgenders. All you have is a burning, uncontrollable desire to call them all a defect.
As such, I suppose you’d be all for “medical correction”, to “cure” the defect and bring all humanity into “dimorphic” perfection, but not to change gender.
Guess what? Many will refuse.
As the old saying goes. Rot in hell. Scum.
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold your horses. I hope you are going to appeal to some amorphous “general scientific consensus” to support that sly claim you are trying to sneak past us.
And the reason why I hope you are, is that then I can force you to defend that supporting assertion by answering the “next most logical philo-scientific question:”
At what point/ can you cite at what point, this defect first appeared in the evolutionary history of the human species and/or its progenitors?
REPLY TO: Mark on October 31, 2017 at 11:43 pm said:
Sexual dimorphism is already a circular term in this context, presupposing itself.
If I give you a bag of perfectly regular platonic geometric shapes cut out of paper:
10 triangles, 10 squares and 2 hexagons,
you’d have to be a flaming moron to say the bag of shapes is dimorphic simply because you could cut the hexagons with scissors into 4 triangles and 2 squares. (or 6 triangles, or 4 squares and 8 triangles, or 4 squares by gluing 2 triangles back together)
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