Gender: It’s only important when they say it is


“What if someone thinks they’re a cat?” “Suppose some guy wants to be a tree.” “What about people who think they’re actually dolphins?” “How is this any different from someone who believes they’re Napoleon?”

Does any of this sound familiar? If so, you probably know what’s going on here. These are just some of the hypotheticals that people have compared with being transgender, in order to portray trans people as similarly absurd or delusional. This argument shows up all over the place, arising independently among people who apparently come up with it on the spot. For some reason, this is one of the biggest go-to tactics of people who think being trans isn’t a real thing.

Not only is this the territory of random uninformed internet commenters and people who write in to the Straight Dope column, but even bioethics experts like Alice Dreger have joined the party. In an article for The Stranger, Dreger criticizes people who supposedly rush gender-nonconforming children into a path of medical transition that may not be right for them. She points out that most of these kids will grow out of identifying as another sex, and compares this to children who like to pretend they’re train engines.

Now, however easy it may be to dismiss kids and their wild imaginations, most of the adult world is not quite so casual about gender. Indeed, it’s common for people to regard gender identity with the utmost seriousness. In their words and in their actions, most people will agree: it does matter what gender someone is.

We see this in the insistence of religious conservatives that a proper marital and sexual relationship can only consist of “one man and one woman”, coming together to create a “one-flesh union”. It’s easy to see that these hardliners probably wouldn’t be so receptive to the notion that gender is such a trivial thing and shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Would they really be swayed from their fixation on gender by the argument of “Well, what about that guy who wants to be a cat?”

Of course, religious conservatives are hardly representative of society in general, but their focus on gender certainly is. For most people, gender is a criterion for their intimate relationships, and it’s usually a pretty strict one. It’s unlikely that a heterosexual man would be convinced to date outside of his preferred sex on the grounds that, hey, gender isn’t that important. After all, some people think they’re Napoleon!

In contrast to the dismissive arguments that are wielded against trans people, most of the world does recognize that gender is pretty significant. It’s a central feature of people’s identities: To men, it’s important that they’re men, and to women, it’s important that they’re women. However inconvenient and uncomfortable the different social norms applied to each gender may be, this still doesn’t drive people to identify as another sex. Their gender identity is simply a part of who they are, for better or worse.

So just how convincing does it sound when we try to use these arguments on men and women who value their identities as men and women? Does it seem at all appropriate to treat their genders as no more meaningful than people who want to be dolphins? Should we see their genders as nothing but a phase that they’ll probably grow out of? Is it possible that wanting to be a man or a woman is really just some kind of sexual fetish or mental illness they’re suffering from? Deciding to live as a man or a woman is a pretty serious choice to make, you know. Are they really sure about this? Some people have regretted it, after all.

And yet most people are content to continue identifying as the gender they’re most comfortable with. They know who they are, they know who they want to fall in love with, and they know that this isn’t anything like wanting to be a cat. Even Alice Dreger acknowledges that children whose cross-gender identification dissipates usually grow up to be gay. Acting like this is just as irrelevant to the development of their identities as wanting to be a train is ridiculous.

Gender matters to children. Gender matters to adults. And when it’s that important to people’s lives, what sense does it make to declare that a certain class of people shouldn’t have their genders taken seriously at all? I simply don’t believe it. If gender was really so insignificant, we wouldn’t see people insisting that trans women are really men, or freaking out over the possibility that one of their partners might have been trans and didn’t tell them. Why would they care? We wouldn’t see straight people or gay people. We wouldn’t even see men or women at all, since gender is just some nonsense like people who want to be trees. If gender really doesn’t matter, I expect people to start acting like it. I’m waiting.

Comments

  1. says

    You know, there’s a huge gap between “gender isn’t important” and “what you think your gender is isn’t important”. The guy who wants to be a tree remains a guy, which is all the people using that argument care about.

  2. great1american1satan says

    Hey-O. Satan here.

    I remember reading that article a long time ago. Something I was left wondering and still am – What is the most ethical way to deal with transitioning for minors?

    Puberty does a lot of things to you that a trans person is going to wish never happened. If they figure out that they are trans before it starts, can do hormones to change that path, wouldn’t that be best for them? How about surgeries?

    I despise gatekeeping, unnecessary barriers to transitioning. But …. minors. Seems complicated.
    Hey, here’s thought for Dreger – Maybe if the kid got to begin transitioning before puberty did its deal, their gender identity wouldn’t dissipate. Then what have you accomplished by delaying them?

    Any other thoughts on this?

  3. says

    Dreger criticizes people who supposedly rush gender-nonconforming children into a path of medical transition that may not be right for them. She points out that most of these kids will grow out of identifying as another sex, and compares this to children who like to pretend they’re train engines.

    Wait, what?
    Cis, straight, gender-nonconforming former child here.
    The worst thing back then was people actually challenging my cis gender identity with things like calling me “he”, saying “I should have been born a boy”, that I was a “better boy than a girl”.
    I never ever wanted to be a boy.
    All I wanted was to climb trees and be wild.
    Assuming that such a thing even could happen (rushing kids to transition) shows a lot about those people’s view on gender, because apparently they need to think that there must be something “wrong” with a boy who likes dolls and a girl who likes trucks.
    I accept that going for the opposite gender stuff because that’s an indication of being a boy/girl can be a sign of a trans* child, but it also shows the toxidity of gender roles and expectations.
    Also, seeing how much it actually doesn’t work trying to talk trans* people out of being trans I don’t assume it would work to talk a cis-child out of being cis (although lots of harm would be done)

  4. Chrisetti says

    I don’t think their ‘argument’ is that gender is trivial. The ‘argument’ is that believing yourself to be something doesn’t make you something. To the man who thinks he’s a tree, he’s still a man, even if he insists on standing in a dirty pot swaying gently in the wind.

    To them, gender is as static and unchanging as your species. A human != A dolphin and a man != a woman and they have pretty set ides of what a ‘man’ is and what a ‘woman’ is, believing the difference to be as large as the difference between man, tree and dolphin.

  5. says

    “What if someone thinks they’re a cat?”
    Besides the fact that gender is a sub-set of humanity, and that cats are outside of humanity.
    SO WHAT?
    So some guy thinks he’s a cat. Is he still showing love and compassion to his friends and family? Is he still taking care of his responsibilities and meeting his goals? Why can’t one of his goals be “cat”!
    I, for one, anticipate our transhumanist future.

  6. Amazing Sandwich says

    Satan, the solution already exists and is simple. Hormone blocking drugs can delay all pubertal changes until a child is sure they want to transition or not, the guardian(s) consent to any necessary treatment, or the child reaches the age of majority and can make their own medical decisions. For a non-transitioner, the only downside is starting puberty late. For the transitioner, there is no first puberty to undo. It is really a win-win, but remains controversial because for some reason people think a child should be forced to experience dramatic physical changes they don’t want just to be SURE they don’t want them. Of course, those changes take thousands of dollars and years to undo, but at least the gatekeepers exacted their toll, so everyone’s happy. Except of course the now-adult who is faced with the costs of fixing their body and life.

    • says

      Those don’t always work and they come with side effects different than just straight hormones do.

      I think the gatekeeping is important not just because I don’t know if every child has supportive parents – or a reliable therapist – but because the process of deciding to transition is a harrowing one that should have some defined steps to take. It shouldn’t be undergone willy-nilly.

      On the other hand, I’m totally against blanket declarations and bans. It’s up to a patient and their physician to decide. The physician is the one we’re trusting to follow best practices, right?

      • earthandstars says

        If you’re willing to discuss it, I’d be interested to hear more about what made deciding to go forward with your transition so difficult and how you feel that gatekeeping helped you in that choice.

        That said, I’d really appreciate it if you wouldn’t generalize about trans people based on your experiences- the ‘harrowing choice’ isn’t a universal narrative at all.

        • Annetta Gaiman says

          It really isn’t… and this supposedly benevolent gatekeeping often ends up meaning letting through those who are most conventionally attractive/”passing” or who adhere most to strict, traditionalist gender roles, or just whoever the doctor doesn’t dislike. I get that for some people, all of this goes really well, and they feel this need to defend all of that, but they’re just the lucky ones. I’m really into informed consent… especially when it comes to whether or not we’re letting a kid go through an incorrect puberty for them.

  7. Christopher Stephens says

    Um, has anyone here ever talked to a furry? Like, in depth? Many furries do consider themselves to literally be their animal identities; cat, wolf, dragon, etc. I honestly can’t pinpoint a meaningful difference between calling a trans person’s gender identity delusional and calling another person’s animal identity delusional. (When I try to wrap my brain around this issue, the first analogy that occurred to me was race; how does the notion of a lily white European-descended dude self-identifying as a transafrican strike you, or vice versa?)

    In any event, I’ve always understood the argument to mean more what Chrisetti says; not really that gender is insignificant. I think the point of the analogy is that if the only way to acceptably define gender is through a person’s self-identification, well, then words like “man” and “woman” don’t really have any meaning. What would someone be trying to actually communicate when you say, “I’m a man” if the definition of “man” is “a gender by which some people identify”?

    • Nepenthe says

      Well, the fact that trans people can live as their identified gender, whereas therian cats don’t eat raw mice and shit in boxes seems like a salient point. Also, human women and men exist; elves and dragons don’t.

      • Christopher Stephens says

        By a “traditional” understanding of gender, there are certainly ways in which trans folks are unable to live as their identified gender, like a transwoman being unable to give birth. Similarly, a traditional-thinking trans-denying conservative will insist that genders like “genderqueer” and “androgyne” obviously don’t exist, even as people are absolutely self-identifying as those genders. That looks to me to be exactly what you’re doing by insisting that dragons don’t exist when people self-identify as dragons.

      • anne mariehovgaard says

        Short answer: no. Longer: it’s complicated ;) Strictly speaking, any strongly held belief that is not based on evidence and (if applicable) is held even in the face of evidence to the contrary, is a delusion. But delusional beliefs that are part of your culture are not considered delusions in the sense of “a symptom of psychosis”. That would include religious beliefs. And if a man believes that someone is making his penis disappear, that may or may not be a sign of psychosis, depending on where he lives… Harm doesn’t come into it, and likelihood only matters in the sense that bizarre delusions (invisible aliens are eating my lungs) are a more serious symptom than non-bizarre – more likely – ones (all my neighbors hate me and are spying on me).

    • Sassafras says

      A human can be born male or female or intersex. It makes perfect sense that the parts of the brain dealing with gender could be formed differently from the body because development is very messy. Different species, inanimate objects, robots, mythological creatures, etc. are not a part of human development and there’s no compelling reason to consider them as even similar to transgender identities.

      The idea of being “trans-race” is even less convincing because so much of what codifies race (especially in the white people trying to emulate other races) is cultural. If you take the cultural aspects out, what’s even left to have an identity about?

      • Christopher Stephens says

        There are “parts of the brain dealing with gender”? I’ll be blunt, I’m very skeptical of biological essentialist notions like “male brains” that function and interpret the world in a stereotypical masculine way, and ditto for “female brains.”

        “The idea of being “trans-race” is even less convincing because so much of what codifies race (especially in the white people trying to emulate other races) is cultural. If you take the cultural aspects out, what’s even left to have an identity about?”

        Actually … that’s pretty much exactly my question about transgender theory. So much of what codifies gender is cultural, too. If you take the cultural aspects out of gender, what’s even left to have an identity about?

        • earthandstars says

          Then why don’t cis people transition? By your logic, there should be lots of women taking T and getting surgery and changing their documents in order to get ahead, but I don’t see that happening anywhere.

        • Sassafras says

          Actually … that’s pretty much exactly my question about transgender theory. So much of what codifies gender is cultural, too. If you take the cultural aspects out of gender, what’s even left to have an identity about?

          Oh, you know, just unimportant things like the entire shape of your body. I’m not trans because I want to wear dresses and makeup, I’m trans because my body is wrong on a fundamental level.

          I’m very skeptical of biological essentialist notions like “male brains” that function and interpret the world in a stereotypical masculine way

          Well that’s great because that’s not what Im talking about. I’m talking about the way ones brain relates to their own body structure, not stuff like “masculine and feminine”.

          • Nathanael says

            My brain finds my body structure alien, period. I’m not really comfortable being human.

            Well, I deal with it. I’m OK with the alien body I’m operating.

            We have an interesting nervous system in which the brain explores the nerve endings in a somewhat random fashion to figure out how to manipulate them. In a very real sense, we all start out in bodies which are alien to us and have to learn to use them by experimentation. (This has been discovered during nerve regeneration work on people who had severed nerves and regrew them, and then confirmed with various studies with babies.) Some of us are better at that than others.

            Psych studies show that most drivers (ones with practice) actually perceive a car as an extension of their body, handling the controls using the same parts of the brain they would use for walking or dancing, etc. The same is true of all manner of machinery handling. This isn’t so odd when you realize that our brains are dealing with our *actual* bodies in a somewhat remote fashion!…

            (This “brain remotely operating a strange body” is not necessarily true of, for instance, the octopus, which has substantially more distributed brain function.)

        • Fortuna Veritas says

          I’m not sure if that’s so much biologically essentialist as that humanity has documented neurochemical and hormonal differences between the brains of cismen and ciswomen from what I recall, and the few studies I’ve read the abstracts for that dealt with anything approaching trans neurochemistry was that X to Y individuals had neurochemistry more resembling Y than X even in cases where there wasn’t any hormone therapy.

          I’ve never been able to find out whether the brains of transmen resemble the brains of heteronormative cismen in the same way that the brains of lesbians are supposed to just to a more extreme extent or not, but I likely don’t have the necessary background to appreciate that level of fine detail even if I could get at the data itself rather than the more common and easily obtainable abstract.

          Granted, just how much of a big deal that all is hasn’t been determined to my knowledge, but it’s much more plausible to be the result of something expressed in the brain given the mind-brain connection than something more ethereal, certainly.

          Mostly though, my understanding had always been that the cultural trappings of gender (the clothing, acceptable colors and patterns to like, activities, etc.) are largely secondary, or even tertiary depending upon the individual, with the primary thing being a profound feeling of wrongness with one’s physical body in general and the genitalia in particular. I’m almost certainly being overly loose in my language here, of course.

          • Nathanael says

            Everything you’ve read about neurochemical differences between the brains of cismen and ciswomen is basically false.

            I do read those studies, and they’re consistently crap. Every study which claims to find some big difference is finding results which are smaller than the normal range of variation *among men* or *among women*. There’s some sort of societal bias which causes any study showing “DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN” to be trumpeted really loudly, while all the studies showing variation among men or among women gets ignored by the press.

            Gender essentialism is popular. It also happens to be false.

  8. rork says

    ” If gender really doesn’t matter, I expect people to start acting like it. I’m waiting.”
    If you mean most people, I figure it’s true you’ll be waiting awhile. But I think it’s true that it matters allot less to some people than others.

    • Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

      Of course gender doesn’t matter less to some people. Even if you don’t have a strong personal sense that your gender is more than incidental to your identity, even if the existence of officially or unofficially segregated “male” and “female” social spaces and “male” and “female” social roles outside of the purely reproductive-biological feels viscerally wrong to you, even if you can honestly say that if you woke up tomorrow in a body of the opposite biological sex your concerns would be “will my clothes fit?”, “how are other people going to react?”, and “will I remember to use the other restroom?” rather than any sense of personal loss or confusion, even if you sometimes have the sense that the “other” gender contains social roles that might be less uncomfortable to fit into but don’t more than briefly consider any kind of transitioning because not “passing” has enormous social costs and passing probably isn’t realistic ever, given your build, and you don’t have a strong sense that a particular gender is viscerally right, just considerations of convenience and how some aspects (but emphatically not others) of your personality might fit well, even if nearly your entire experience with gender exists in terms of other people’s expectations and demands and pressures, Gender Is Important To Everyone.

      Oh, and by the way, you don’t really feel any of that.

      *sigh*

    • Nathanael says

      “To men, it’s important that they’re men, and to women, it’s important that they’re women.”

      Speak for yourself. To some of you, it’s important. To others of us, it’s very much not.

      Some intersex people are very invested in being intersex, and some… aren’t.

      “If gender really doesn’t matter, I expect people to start acting like it. I’m waiting.”
      It matters to some people and not to others, m’kay? Now, do you want to be one of the people who cares deeply about other people’s gender or one of the people who doesn’t?

      I’m not disputing that most of society is pretty aggressively insistent on gender-boxing people. And you’re going to do what you have to do deal with that. Do you want to encourage a gender-boxing society or not?

  9. SKB says

    The day when a baby is born and we’re not sure if it’s a human or a cat is the day that this argument will start having merit to me. Because right now, every day, babies are born intersex and quietly shuffled into one gender box or the other, sometimes via genital surgery or hormone treatment without consulting the individual it affects. This alone should clearly show that gender is not as cut and dried as these folks like to believe.

    But a baby is never born that might be a cat, or might be a human. Because species and gender are different. Obviously.

  10. great1american1satan says

    Thanks for the replies Amazing and Crissa, but as one of you was convincing one way and the other convincing in the other direction, I still stand scratching my head. Though Amazing did a better job of addressing what bugs me the most – legal minority.

    We don’t trust kids, legally, to do one damn thing in life. And there’s good reason for that – they can be more easily coerced. So how do we go about helping kids that are probably transgender avoid the worst ravages of wrong gender puberty? With the drugs Amazing mentioned, yes, but what about the legal and ethical issues pertaining to minors?

    I’d like to hear what you have to say. :-)

    • Sassafras says

      What legal and ethical issues pertaining to minors? The whole point of puberty delaying treatments is to stall puberty until the patient is no longer a minor.

  11. B says

    “So how do we go about helping kids that are probably transgender avoid the worst ravages of wrong gender puberty?”
    Well, you would first have to establish a way of knowing, objectively, if the child is transgendered or not…I would guess. Beyond that you take a risk either way.
    On what basis would you say a child is “probably transgendered”, if the child doesn’t have any idea or can’t clearly communicate it, how would anyone else know and how could a probability be assigned?
    It is just a factor of reality that we cannot address without the correct knowledge.

    I think your question of “if gender doesn’t matter…” is a bit to broad of an interpetation overall. Of course gender matters, and it always will, it is ignorant to think otherwise. But there are contexts in which it does not “really” matter, such as the job market, or protection under the law.

  12. thascius says

    The issue with kids is that a lot of kids labelled as having gender identity disorder do NOT grow up to be transgendered adults. Most follow up studies (which granted have their issues, usually small sample sizes) find that as adults, only a small number of boys diagnosed with GID before puberty are still gender dysphoric as adults (2-20%). A larger number (42-80%) identify as homosexual/bisexual. Less research has been done on girls diagnosed with GID. A lot of gays and lesbians engaged in gender atypical behavior as kids, even to the point of declaring that they were “really” the opposite sex, but as adults are quite happy with their gender. We don’t have a good way of distinguishing gender atypical kids who will grow up to be transgendered from those who won’t. Beginning transitioning, or even just delaying puberty, for the latter group isn’t doing them any favors.

    • Sassafras says

      Yes, of course, treatment or puberty delays aren’t a good idea, because a large portion of them could grow out of it, and the ones who don’t? Well, fuck them.

      • thascius says

        And your idea is what? Give hormone treatments or delay puberty to kids and the ones who would grow out of it-screw them? A large portion of kids labelled GID DO grow out of it. We don’t have any good way of distinguishing those who will from those who won’t. Is it fair to ask a 10 year old boy (or his parents) to decide, for the rest of his life, whether he is a gay boy or a girl trapped in a boy’s body? It takes adults years to work through things like that and we expect children to know the answers before puberty? If we just start “transitioning” every child who gets labelled gender atypical, a lot of gay and lesbian kids are going to be getting shoved into the transgender category, even though that’s not what they are. (And if parents decide they’d rather have a heterosexual daughter than a homosexual son? Do you really think homophobia, conscious or otherwise, would NEVER play a role in such decisions?) Sex change treatments are serious business, with the possibility of real complications. With adults there are a lot of hoops they have to jump through to prove they are certain before doctors will begin treatment. And adults with gender dysphoria don’t tend to “outgrow it.” A lot of kids do.

        • Sassafras says

          YES, delay puberty for the kids that strongly present as trans! If they change their mind later, ok, they missed out on a few years of puberty and then can proceed as whatever they like. If they actually are trans and have to go through the wrong puberty, then they are saddled with consequences that can takes decades and thousands and thousands of dollars to correct. I’m not willing to put the long-term, severe suffering of trans children below the hypothetical inconvenience of a small amount of cis children.

          If we just start “transitioning” every child who gets labelled gender atypical, a lot of gay and lesbian kids are going to be getting shoved into the transgender category, even though that’s not what they are.

          Thats slippery slope bullshit. Unless you can show me that happens, I’m not buying it. Especially since you cite studies on “growing out of it” that by your own admission have flaws with small sample sizes and give results that vary up to 40%.

          • Sassafras says

            And just so I’m crystal clear, when I say “show me that happens” I mean “show me that large amounts of confused cis kids are being physically transitioned” rather than just having a few years of slow puberty.

          • thascius says

            How do you define “stongly present as trans?” How do you distinguish the majority of kids labelled GID who will outgrow it from the minority who will be trans adults? Flawed as the studies may be, they do consistently show the majority of boys labelled GID do not go on to be trans adults. There are no studies, flawed or not, showing the contrary. Delayed puberty is not an “incovenience,” it’s a serious medical problem, not something any doctor would induce without a very good reason. And yes, if we could know BEFORE puberty which children would be transgendered and which would not early intervention would make a lot of sense. And maybe someday, somebody will figure out how to make that distinction. But we do not now.

    • Nathanael says

      I suspect that those numbers conceal a large number of people who want to break out of gender boxes entirely, but were never offered the option. As children, declaring that they were a different sex was the only option; as adults, subtler options presented themselves.

      The gender-role-rejecting options have to be made valid for everyone before we can sanely deal with the people who care about gender…

  13. thascius says

    Large amount of kids aren’t being transitioned-so obviously large amounts of cis-kids aren’t being transitioned inappropriately. And any child with delayed puberty will tell you it’s not an inconvenience-it’s one of the most humliating things imaginable.

    • earthandstars says

      Speaking as someone whose life was nearly destroyed by the gatekeeping you advocate, delayed puberty is a walk in the fucking park compared to being forced through the wrong puberty. I’ve got all the baggage of delayed puberty to deal with plus a PTSD diagnosis and more than a decade’s worth of estrogen side effects that have to be undone as best as possible to the tune of thousands of dollars. Since the mental health stuff prevents me from working and provincial health care doesn’t cover my transition, I’ll live in extreme poverty with a serious untreated medical condition until I kill myself, which will happen soon because I can’t fucking take it any more. But sure, freak out about the kids who might take blockers and end up being cis after all- they’re the ones we really ought to worry about here.

        • earthandstars says

          Your entire argument is that the temporary side effects cis kids could experience outweigh the devastating and permanent consequences that trans kids face if they’re not allowed appropriate medical treatment. You show a lot of concern for these hypothetical cis children and none at all for the actual living trans children who are being seriously harmed by their own endocrine systems.

          I smell a double standard.

          • thascius says

            The double standard is when people will happily harm cis children to possibly help trans children. If there were a good way to determine which gender atypical children would grow up to be cis and which would grow up to be trans your argument would have merit. Unforunately there isn’t.

          • earthandstars says

            @thascius

            Now you’re even framing blockers as something that ‘possibly’ helps trans children and automatically harms cis ones. You also seem to think that suppressing puberty involves adults making decisions for the kid without any input from them. Where exactly are you getting your information? Besides your experience as a gender-atypical cis child, what’s your opinion based on?

        • earthandstars says

          Thanks. I might manage it yet; I’d much rather stay alive if I can. Plus, I’ve survived Christmas, and that counts for something.

    • Sassafras says

      And any child with delayed puberty will tell you it’s not an inconvenience-it’s one of the most humliating things imaginable.

      Are you kidding me here? Do you honestly think kids are going to be undergoing puberty blocking treatment against their will? Doctors and parents don’t want kids to be transgender; All it will take is one word from the kid and that treatment will be stopped so fast it might give them whiplash. And Delayed puberty is not a “medical problem” if its being deliberately induced to help the child.

      Also? As someone who went through the wrong>/I> puberty, I can tell you that it’s not only the most humiliating and painful things imaginable, it also has permanent and painful changes that cost thousands of dollars to undo. So don’t try to play the pity card with me.

      How do you distinguish the majority of kids labelled GID who will outgrow it from the minority who will be trans adults?

      I don’t, because its not my job to. That’s between the child and their parents and doctors.

      We don’t ban medical treatments just because they don’t work for all patients. Even more so when the consequences are temporary for confused cis kids and permanent for trans kids.

      • thascius says

        Kids don’t always know what they want. When I was 5 I insisted I was a girl. By the time I reached puberty I realized I was gay but was quite happy being male. I realize my own experience is an N of 1 and doesn’t generalize to others but there are kids who are confused, there are kids who are gender atypical who wind up being cis-adults.

        • thascius says

          If puberty had been delayed for me it may have been temporary, but it also would have made me the smallest, weakest boy in my class in middle school, which would have made it even more of a hell than it was. I won’t pretend to understand your life experience but you don’t understand mine either. It scares the hell out of me to me think I might have been “transitioned” by well-meaning people who couldn’t tell which GID kids would grow up to be cis and which would be trans.

  14. mayanskeptic says

    THE MAYAN SKEPTIC APOCALYPSE 12/21/2012

    we really enjoy your atheist forum

    do a search on youtube for skepticality

    a little souvenir

    it is the video about the PIGS

  15. Nathanael says

    If someone would pay attention to the intersex people, it might be possible to think more clearly about these things. There’s a lot of different things which are rolled up in one big blob by the concept of “gender” or “sex”, and *why the hell do they all have to go together*. Answer: they don’t and when people get used to that then we’ll have a better society.

  16. Nathanael says

    “Is it possible that wanting to be a man or a woman is really just some kind of sexual fetish or mental illness they’re suffering from? Deciding to live as a man or a woman is a pretty serious choice to make, you know. Are they really sure about this? Some people have regretted it, after all.”

    For the sake of argument, I’m going to be radical about this. Yes, ALL of you who are “deciding” to be male or female — cis or trans — you’re all suffering from a mental illness! We are what we are, with whatever funny combination of traits we may have or choose to have — while gender is a poorly constructed category which should be abolished from our language entirely!

    I’m not this radical in general, but given that this post can come acroess as *anti-genderqueer* or even *gender-essentialist*, I think it’s worth making the aggressively radical anti-gender argument.

    “If gender was really so insignificant, we wouldn’t see people insisting that trans women are really men, or freaking out over the possibility that one of their partners might have been trans and didn’t tell them. Why would they care?”

    Well, I don’t. *Those* people have a problem! Is your point “lots of other people care about gender” or “lots of people should care about gender”? The first is obviously true. The second, I vehemently disagree with.

    There are people who have decided to make all manner of physical alterations to the bodies they were born with. I have to respect their right to make choices — all of them, even the really disturbing ones like the Ukranian women who are making themselves into living Barbie dolls. I believe in children’s rights, too.

    And I believe you shouldn’t be nearly so dismissive of people who want to be trees. If you’ve ever talked to them, the importance of this to their identities is… well, it’s bigger than you can possibly imagine. Even if they know it’s almost certainly not possible, that doesn’t mean it’s not an important goal. Like immortality is for you, you know?

  17. says

    I’m not this radical in general, but given that this post can come acroess as *anti-genderqueer* or even *gender-essentialist*, I think it’s worth making the aggressively radical anti-gender argument.

    Sure, some people don’t identify within a binary, or regard themselves as having a gender, or consider gender to be all that important to their identity. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But many people do identify as men or women and they do consider this part of their identity that they’d rather not change. There’s nothing wrong with genderqueer; there’s likewise nothing wrong with not-genderqueer. The fact that people do identify with genders isn’t inherently the problem here, nor is the fact that many identify with one of two predominant genders. The problem is when this excludes anything else, and when these categories are needlessly narrowed to a restrictive and uncomfortable degree.

Trackbacks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>