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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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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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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Social work professor speaks out on behalf of her FtM autistic daughter

Originally posted at 4th Wave Now

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.”

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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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Woman Isn’t

Originally posted at The Perfect Birth

If you think the fact that some women will never have children, have never menstruated, no longer menstruate, have had their uterus or breasts removed, etc., proves that males can also be women, you’re a sexist.

Please examine that misogyny as you don’t think much of women. Women are more than their biology, but not less.

Being a woman is not being a not-man. Womanhood is not defined as the absence of total masculinity. Woman is not something you can define only in relation to seemingly not amounting to man. Womanhood would never be revoked by an absence of those individual biological things, and absence of those things in others is not confirmation of who can or can not claim womanhood. “Woman” is not some dumping ground category to include men who don’t conform to rigid gender standards. If this were true, 90% of the world would be “woman”. Woman is not an afterthought. Woman is not second place.

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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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Did my views on trans women change?

Originally posted at The Idge of Reason

Appropriating the language of feminism for misogyny is a problem. That is not about denying trans women anything. Trans women need the discussion of structural inequality that they face part of. Feminism is not about controlling the worlds women so they have to concentrate on managing your identity instead of the lives they face because of structural inequality imposed on them for being women. Women did not choose the things attributed to our gender, even if you value them. They are not an innate part of womanhood. If your identity is so fragile you need women to manage it for you, that is about you, not them. There is no female brain that meant women wanted to be subservient for years. There is the responsibilities that still fall disproportionately to women, there is economic inequality rooted in this, there is the reason feminism existed in the first place. Which has not gone away.

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