What is gender, anyway?

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.

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The relentless tide of sex stereotypes

Originally posted at Purple Sage

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.

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Birth wars: the politics of childbirth

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.

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Why I Won’t Accept The Politics Of Gender Identity

Originally published by The Morning Star

THE concept of gender identity is being enshrined into law in several countries now, giving new legal protections to transgender people on the basis of their identities.

In the United States, the Obama administration recently signed a declaration that all public schools in the country must recognise the gender identity of their students.

Canada has recently announced new legal protections for transgender people. In Britain, there is interest growing in allowing people to legally define their own gender.

As a person on the political left and as a member of the LGBT community, I am expected to applaud these changes to legislation, but instead I am critical.

This is because the concept of gender identity is poorly defined, and the politics of transgenderism is harmful to women and girls and rooted in individualism rather than collective action.

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Arson at Canada’s only sex change clinic

Originally posted at Purple Sage

Recently an arsonist set fire to Canada’s only sex change clinic, located in Montreal, and caused $700,000 worth of damage. Pro-trans journalists speculated that it was a hate crime and that it was evidence of transphobia. It was immediately obvious to me that the person who set this fire was a former patient. Gender critical feminists aren’t setting fire to surgery clinics, and neither are right-wing conservatives. We simply don’t believe that men are women, but we have no desire to physically harm anyone or damage property because of our beliefs. The people who tend to terrorize others and cause trouble are male-to-female transsexuals—the autogynephile type.

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Trans Kids On The Today Programme

Originally posted at Transgender Trend

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.

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Thoughts of a person, with breasts

Originally posted at Glosswatch

Jaqueline Rose recently wrote 15,000 breathless, muddled words on transness for the LRB. “Transsexual people are brilliant at telling their stories,” she declared. They are interesting, you see, unlike cis women, those dullards, unquestioning conscripts to the gender regime who see themselves as “normal” because they lack the trans person’s unique ability to inhabit a liminal space:

The ‘cis’ – i.e. non-trans – woman or man is a decoy, the outcome of multiple repressions whose unlived stories surface nightly in our dreams. From the Latin root meaning ‘on this side of’ as opposed to ‘across from’, ‘cis’ is generally conflated with normativity, implying ‘comfortable in your skin’, as if that were the beginning and end of the matter.

Who, exactly, we may therefore ask – trans or non-trans – is fooling whom? Who do you think you are? – the question anyone hostile to transsexual people should surely be asking themselves. So-called normality can be the cover for a multitude of ‘sins’.

Cis woman, as far as Rose is concerned, restricts herself to a surface-only existence. She is Woolf’s looking glass, now providing an outline to be filled with someone else’s deep, meaningful knowledge of what it is to truly live as neither one thing nor another. The patriarchal insistence that women do not have souls gets an update; cis woman does not know her own soul, but that is her fault. She condemns herself to inauthenticity through her own lack of curiosity, content to remain tits and ass, “the cover for a multitude of ‘sins’.”

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Your meme is stupid, and it makes you look stupid.

Originally posted at Secretly Radical

OF COURSE NOT ALL TRANSWOMEN ARE CRIMINALS. Some of the best male people I know are transwomen.
HOWEVER.
1) ALL TRANSWOMEN ARE MALE;
2) MALES AS A CLASS ARE A DANGER TO WOMEN AND CHILDREN;
3) THE LABEL “TRANSGENDER” REQUIRES NO MEANINGFUL TRANSITION;
4) TRANSITION DOES NOT RENDER A MALE PERSON HARMLESS.
THE ISSUE IS NOT TRANS PEOPLE USING PUBLIC RESTROOMS.
THE ISSUE IS MALE PEOPLE USING FEMALE RESTROOMS.
If males are not dangerous, why do we have sex-segregated bathrooms in the first place? And what the Hell do you think actual transwomen are afraid of in the men’s room? Evil urinals? No, it’s males. If their fears are valid, why piss on the fears of female people??

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Not gender fluid – just children

Originally published by the Brighton & Hove Independent

At primary school, children should be able to play and learn freely, developing wide interests – without being taught that girls do one thing and boys another. Children who enjoy non-traditional activities should no more be labelled ‘gender-fluid’ than they should be called gay. Parents of budding female engineers or male ballet dancers should value all their children’s talents, not assume their skills indicate gender dysphoria.

In a culture which regularly exposes children to images of sexual violence and exploitation, we should resist anything encouraging further sexualisation. We should not stoke anxiety in parents nor over-zealousness in teachers – nor excitedly impose the latest ideological fashion on children already allowed very little real childhood.

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Awakening clinician: What do we think we are talking about?

Originally posted on Youth Trans Critical Professionals

Why are so many children and young people suddenly identifying or being identified as transgender?

Why are gender and sexuality being confused? Why are we not asking questions about including and valuing everyone in a gender neutral way? Why are many professionals – including myself – suppressing our own questions in public and professional forums?

When we talk about transgender – what do we think we are talking about? 

How do we support people with indeterminate sex (different from indeterminate gender) to feel safe alongside every other individual?

How is medical intervention for children of indeterminate sex a different issue from medical intervening for children articulating gender confusion?

Can we clarify the terminology? ‘Male to Female’ and ‘Female to Male’ seems too binary and incomplete. The issue is ‘Male to Trans’ and ‘Female to Trans’ and using this terminology we begin to encompass a broader, more accurate, notion of the shared experiences and identities of men, women and Trans people.

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