I’ve written a few times about how biology is more complex than people think, that all the people claiming that biology dictates that there are only two genders are liars and fools, and that we should be far more inclusive in our perspective. However, I am not a trans person; I’m a comfortable cis-het white man, ensconced in the most privileged socio-cultural group in the country, and that puts me in an awkward position. It means that by default, when I think about these issues, I lapse into thinking about them from an outsiders perspective, as someone who is safely above it all, and most likely, I’ll think about it as a science problem. The transphobes are abusing science and are citing bad science, and so what I need to do is hammer back with good science.
Science isn’t going to win this one. When the argument turns to strangers trying to affirm or deny my identity on the basis of biological particulars, I head for the hills like the dinosaurs in Fantasia running from the T. rex. That’s because trans rights are not a scientific issue. They are a human rights issue. There is certainly a lot we could say—and that I would honestly love to know!—about human sexual variation, the effects of hormone replacement therapy, why hoped-for bodily changes are so emotionally fulfilling, and more. Some of these things might be wonderful topics for biology classes; imagine if every high schooler in America were educated to understand that human sex itself comes with a lot of variation. (Thinking back to my younger, closeted self, that would have helped!) But, in terms of deciding how I, as a trans person, am going to move through the world, all the information about hormones and biology affects three people, at most: my doctor, my partner, and myself. That’s all.
I see and respect the point. It would be easy to fall into the trap of cis boys shouting back and forth about the science, who is wrong, who is right, swapping journal citations and studies, and forget that all the rarefied pomposity is going on above the bodies of real people who are suffering. It’s easy for me to talk about the various tissues and organs of developing embryos and lose sight of the fact that I don’t have a direct stake in the game, and for the people who do, it’s not a game at all. It’s not something that can be settled with science!
All this time spent debating “the science” of where transgender people belong in society only confuses a truth many are struggling to accept. It is a distraction no matter which side of the argument you are on, because you are complicating and putting up for debate something that is very simple. Trans men are men. Trans women are women. Nonbinary people are valid. Trans people have always been here. We are here now. We will continue to be.
I’ll put that front and center in my head from now on. That’s the primary issue in this struggle. The transphobes are trying to abolish the fundamental equality of all people, and set aside a small group for discrimination and oppression, and the danger is that they can use the physical and psychological diversity of human beings as a tool to justify turning those differences into the basis of hatred.