Originally published by Sarah Ditum at the New Statesman
This can be perplexing terrain, in which it’s not at all clear that everyone is speaking the same language, although they might be using the same words. In popular usage, “gender” is often simply a synonym for “sex”, and it’s unquestioned that “woman” and “female”, and “man” and “male” are naturally and irrevocably paired. (This could be called the essentialist account, or “gender is in one’s pants”.) Essentialism comes in slightly more sophisticated variants too, and one current proponent is Simon Baron-Cohen, Professor of Developmental Psychopathology at the University of Cambridge, who has written extensively on what he calls “the essential difference”, claiming that the male brain is inherently systematising and the female brain inherently empathising, leading to a natural division of roles on the basis of a physical difference. (Baron-Cohen does allow that “not all men have the male brain, and not all women have the female brain”, but the fact that “systematising” roles occupied by men tend to be well-paid and prestigious, while “empathising” ones performed by women are less valuable or even entirely unpaid, is regarded as an unfortunate coincidence.)
Feminist analysis has vigorously challenged that view.
Another day, another article about a child who is being taught that she is the opposite sex because she likes the wrong things. May 18th’s victim of gender roles is Shanice/Shane, who is a girl who likes “boys’ things,” and is therefore being transitioned to a boy. The 1950s-style sexism in this article is enough to make me vomit. I swear, somebody somewhere is being paid to churn out these articles daily and they’re required to include as many sex stereotypes as possible. It’s all part of the public relations campaign for traditional gender roles and expensive surgeries.
Originally published by Glosswitch at the New Statesman
To be of woman born is a universal experience, yet women themselves remain a diffuse, fractured group. “What is a woman, anyway?” is still considered a deep, meaningful question to ask. The polite answer is, of course, “whatever anyone wants it to be”. More than that would close off the vessel, seal the hole, glue back together the broken shell. There’s a sense in which women are simply not meant to be whole. We need to be in pieces so that men can survive intact.
Internal experiences and sensations are not material realities and cannot be legislated. Gender resides in your psychology. It’s interesting they use the term ‘sense.’ We can’t legislate senses because they are highly inaccurate. Also if ‘there are a variety’ of individual experiences of gender, which ones matter?
Moving onto ‘Gender expression’ we see the words ‘behaviour’ and ‘appearance.’ A person’s behaviour and appearance aren’t connected to a person’s sex. Sex is independent of gender. You cannot change your clothes in order to change your sex. You are born a sex that is clearly defined and immutable.
Gender is independent of sex. Gender is an invented concept of patriarchy. It’s a hierarchy with ‘femininity’ at the bottom and ‘masculinity’ on top. Gender behaviours and appearances are learned, and it means they can be unlearned. A female infant is not born with a predilection to play with dolls or wear pink. She is taught that this is her ROLE. I know I’m preaching to the choir here but this is mainly for people who don’t understand the differences.
Feminism rejects gender because it teaches females behaviours and attitudes that are detrimental to our freedoms as human beings.
Transactivists are enforcing gender stereotypes ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity.’ They’re saying if a boy plays with dolls, flicks his long hair, and claims he’s a girl, he really is a girl.
Relatively few Americans considered bathroom access a civil rights issue until last week. They deserve to hear the arguments pro and con before making up their own minds. Much remains to be said and learned about the issue; truncating this conversation just as it is beginning is wrong (and arguably violates the Administrative Procedure Act).
Here are just a few questions that people might have asked before making up their minds. How uncomfortable are people with the prospect of those with different anatomies sharing their bathrooms? Is this discomfort likely to grow or decline? Since gender identity cannot be confirmed before entering bathrooms, how great is the risk of voyeurism or other abuses? How costly will it be to provide gender-neutral bathrooms, and how would people of all genders feel about such alternatives? Will market pressures such as the boycotts against North Carolina’s bathroom regulation produce a better mix of solutions than the government’s one size fits all?
And how many transgender people actually experience indignity when using traditional bathrooms, and what is the nature of this indignity? Discomfort about using a urinal when men at nearby urinals think one is a woman? Annoyance at having to wait for a stall to conceal one’s anatomy?
In the following report, we don’t judge either of the children featured (who were both charming and very likeable), we use their interviews only to question the level of rigour in the reporting of these cases, as well as the ideology which underpins the assumptions made about appropriate ‘treatments’ for such children.
What’s striking about the coverage of this issue on the Today programme is the lack of incisive questioning of the kind you would expect for a serious news item; John Humphreys tried, but came across as out of his depth on an issue which demands serious challenge. Children’s bodies are being medically altered into a biologically intersex condition to fit a psychological identity: the ideology behind this practice is not one which needs to be treated with polite deference.
The adoption of the new language – “assigned the wrong gender at birth” for example – obfuscates the issue from the start, and subsequent inaccuracies in language further confuse things.
My daughter, who is on the autism spectrum, as am I, is now 19 years old. She had felt (and told others) that she was a lesbian most of her life. When she was 16, she began watching a TV show called “Degrassi,” which featured an FtoM character. After a few weeks, she announced that she was not actually a butch lesbian, as she had previously said, but was in fact trans. She started attending a local PFLAG meeting, where she met many trans people, including a number of FtoM trans teenagers who were raving about a certain “gender therapist.” Although the APA recommends a minimum of one year of “gender counseling” before surgery, this gender therapist (whom I consented to, before really understanding what I was doing) gave my daughter the go-ahead to have a bilateral mastectomy after only two sessions. This gender specialist never reviewed any of the Special Ed records or spoke to my daughter’s previous therapist, who had known her for a decade. And, crucially, she never asked my daughter, “Might you be a lesbian?”
The gender therapist (whom I believe has an unholy financial alliance with the surgeon) gave my daughter (then 18 and one day) the go-ahead for the $30,000 surgery (covered for all university employees and their families where I work). My daughter is now on testosterone (which she clearly is unable to evaluate the risks and consequences of).
To give you some sense of my daughter’s level of understanding of what it means to transition, she told me recently that she believes that the testosterone “will grow her a penis.”
If you had told my younger self that I would be writing an article in support of Republican legislation I might have laughed at you. But as a leftist who prioritizes women’s rights I find myself in support of Republican Gov. McRory and the new bathroom laws in my state of North Carolina.
All mainstream discussions of North Carolina’s new bathroom laws are using memes to criticize it. Which is useful if you’re not a fan of critical thinking, but it seems memes and messages like them are adequate legal arguments in the court of public opinion. So what’s the deal?
An inherent part of rape culture is trying to put on the defensive those who raise concerns about predatory behaviour happening in front of or to them (or policy which enables it), or are in the classes of people most predated on (women and children), who might also conceivably object. The aim is to make them feel as though they are doing something wrong.
Accordingly, those invested in rape culture need to make targets and potential targets feel upfront – even ahead of time – that their boundaries and concerns are wrong. Preparing ground by ensuring that potential targets know to feel badly about thinking critically of them, and don’t gather allies against predation (but maybe even distance themselves from likely allies), is a common activity of predators.
Predators and their enablers achieve this quite easily when they apply a ‘reversal’ to what’s really going on, by making the targets/ targetted classes sound like the predatory ones.