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Sep 20, 2023·edited Sep 20, 2023Liked by Lisa Selin Davis

This is great, thanks.

For the life of me, I can never understand why one has to accept gender theory to believe that people--however they identify--deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. If adults want to alter their bodies with drugs and surgery, go ahead! I'll use their chosen names and pronouns, invite them to parties, patronize their businesses and advocate for their rights to housing and employment and the other privilegs of equal citizenship. They may have some beliefs about gender that I don't get, but then again LOTS of people in my life have beliefs I don't share. I'm an atheist but two of my closest friends are devout Catholics, and I wouldn't give up their friendship for anything.

Part of living in a pluralistic society is accepting that, although we may not all hold the same beliefs, we all deserve justice, tolerance, and the space to live as fully as we can.

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"If adults want to alter their bodies with drugs and surgery, go ahead! I'll use their chosen names and pronouns, invite them to parties, patronize their businesses and advocate for their rights to housing and employment and the other privileges of equal citizenship."

Even if the faddish qualities of the contemporary trans scene, which skews heavily toward urban and suburban teens and young adults; the emergence of rapid onset gender dysphoria; the disproportionate number of trans-identifying people with autism and the confounding effect of co-morbidities didn't cast doubts on the authenticity of individuals' claims to be trans, there are other reasons for circumspection when contemplating conferring "the . . . privileges of citizenship" on someone solely because they identify as a different gender.

For example, it is fundamentally unfair to real women to compel sports organizations to permit men who have gone through puberty to compete in women's-only events because they identify as female. It would be a grave injustice to female athletes to give trans women the right to compete against real women as a privilege of equal citizenship.

Likewise, biological women should be allowed women's-only spaces such as domestic violence shelters, spas and prisons without fear that men who identify as trans women will demand and gain access to those spaces as a privilege of equal citizenship. That has already happened at a Korean-owned women's spa in Seattle. The same holds true for men's spaces such as dating sites and sex clubs.

A person's identity does not exist in a vacuum. For an identity to be viable, it must be supported by social consensus. For example, American society today is unwilling to accept a person's claim to identify as a member of a different race. Individuals who do not believe that trans women are women and trans men are men should not be at risk of being punished by a state that has criminalized misgendering in order to defend trans people's privileges of citizenship.

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"without fear that men who identify as trans women will ..."

"transwomen" -- compound word like "crayfish" which ain't 😉🙂:

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/trans_woman#Usage_notes

Quite a bit more justification -- logical and linguistic -- for that compound than for the adjective-noun pair. To use the latter is just more or less conceding the claim, abandoning the field unbloodied.

But a big part of the problem is "confusion" over that rather pretentious phrase, "identify as". A fairly coherent and illuminating definition thereof:

"identify as; phrasal verb

identify as something

to recognize or decide that you belong to a particular category"

https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/identify-as

One can't reasonably say one "belongs to a particular category" unless one can pay the membership dues for it. For example, someone 35 years old can't say -- reasonably -- that they "identify as a teenager". Apart from that pretentious phrase itself -- who, for example, ever says that they "identify as an accountant"? -- they clearly don't meet the membership requirements -- i.e., being 13 to 19.

Likewise with transwomen saying they "identify as women" or, more egregiously, that they "identity as females". Generally speaking, and according to the standard biological definitions, to have a sex is to have functional gonads of either of two types, those with neither being sexless. In which case, transwomen are either males, if they still have their nuts attached, or are sexless eunuchs if they don't.

In neither case do they qualify as females, and shouldn't be accorded any of the rights that society, wisely or not, grants to individuals in that category, nominally speaking or not.

Rather important to be precise in our language, at least when push comes to shove.

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Sep 20, 2023·edited Sep 20, 2023

Dignity and respect for everyone, yes, of course.

The problem is when kids are encouraged to ruminate on what their gender identity is and are told that if they have the "wrong" one that doctors can fix it, and if their parents don't agree, that their parents are abusive. And that the schools and others should socially transition the kid to help them (which does seem to make this gender distress persist more often). That schools and others should help the kids access hormones, with lifelong consequences, based upon this belief (which have not been shown to help gender dysphoria) or help the kids run away (check some earlier Pitt stories about this, yes it is happening). All because their parents are not on board with this belief. The kids are being taught it as if it is fact.

Young people should not be taught someone's theory, especially with such consequences, withouth parental approval, and as a belief it is not clear why it should be in schools or treated as fact by the medical profession either. I don't want kids being taught that tenets of any belief as if it were fact, in school. That there are different beliefs, absolutely.

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Yes gender ideology is becoming a state sponsored religion in Blue States, while Red States are going the Christian Nationalism route. Helluva choice for an old school secular liberal. I’m gonna have to opt out by getting the hell outta Dodge. Mexico here I come.

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Precisely how I see it and how I feel about it. Not sure I want to head for Mexico, however, and Western Europe is disintegrating along with the U.S.

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Bingo! Your point is missed by many commentators. It is this strong affirming gender algorithm associated with strong moral conviction by the adults who oversee them for incredibly confused, often mildly mentally challenged young people, that is so deeply troubling. Confused children should not be pressured into a very biased single outcome-oriented system. This is medical, psychiatric and social malpractice.

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Well said!

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Extremely well articulated. I just wish the trans activists were as tolerant. Instead they want the world to conform to their reality instead of recognizing that separate realities need to coexist under basic rules of fairness that HAVE to apply to all. Cis females as usual get the short straw as it is almost exclusively trans women who push their “reality” involuntary onto others in states like California where I live.

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I see the situation as a mentally disordered minority projecting their conflicts onto the majority, so that the majority experiences the confusion that actually originates from and resides in the minority's psychopathology. Excessive preoccupation and emotional struggle associated with issues of identity confusion are diagnostic criteria for certain personality disorders, including narcissistic, borderline, and histrionic. These individuals are also noted for their ability to manipulate other people into becoming confused and reactive towards the manipulator's disordered thinking and behavior. It is common for the target person to be maneuvered into mirroring the disordered person's specific conflicts. The target person then becomes as obsessed with that set of problems as the manipulator was, and the manipulator claims that the target was really the crazy one all along.

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Sandra that’s a really interesting take, primarily because you make it sound so calculated. Classic gaslighting. Thus the rush to ad hominem attacks like “bigot” and “transphobe.” Basically to invalidate the speaker rather than the content of what is spoken.

Since the invalidation is in fact later validated by society it is powerful and effective in the same way Struggle Sessions were powerful and effective during the Mao’s Chinese Cultural Revolution.

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Conscious, intentional gaslighting is commonly perpetrated by people who have narcissistic or anti-social personality disorders. What I was talking about in my previous post, however, is a non-conscious process of denial and projection. People who have narcissistic or borderline personality disorder are blind regarding their disowned feelings, needs and behaviors, at least part of the time. They then project onto others the feelings that they do not want to attribute to themselves, and they actually believe that it is the others, NOT themselves, who are the source of those feelings, needs and behaviors. For example, they sometimes deny their hostile competitive behavior, project it onto another person, then accuse that person of being hostile and competitive towards themselves. People with narcissistic or borderline personality disorders also unconsciously (as well as consciously) manipulate people into acting out the feelings that the personality disordered people can't manage to contain. For example, when a person with BPD is very angry and conflicted about it, she is likely to provoke another person into becoming angry. The person with BPD will truly experience the other person's angry reaction as an unprovoked and unfair attack on the person with BPD.

The psychoanalytic term for this process is "projective identification." The personality disordered person creates a mirror image of her/himself out of the other person, who is then seen not as they are but as the embodiment of the disowned parts of oneself.

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Thanks for the very thoughtful response. I was given a very different impression in your original comment because you used consciously active verbs like "manipulate" and "maneuver" when characterizing people with such disorders. Thanks for the clarification.

I know little about the formal practice of psychoanalytic therapy, so this is all a bit new to me. To be honest, I am having a bit of trouble taking your theory and visualizing it the practical context of the fraught debate between trans activists and the world at large.

I think what you are saying is that a trans person (knowingly or unknowingly) acts in a way that many people would see as outrageous and objectionable. Lia Thomas, for example, switched from the male varsity swim team to the female one as a fully formed male competitive swimmer. Whether Lia predicted it or not, the public backlash to the obvious objective unfairness is visceral and intense. Then Lia [to quote you] "will truly experience the other person's angry reaction as an unprovoked and unfair attack on the person with BPD {Lia]." In other words, Lia [and her allies] react with accusations of "transphobia," "bigotry" and "hate."

So far, so good--I get the narcissism. But what I don't get is how Lia "creates a mirror image of her/himself out of the other person [expressing outrage over the unfairness], who is then seen not as they are but as the embodiment of the disowned parts of oneself." Are you saying that, deep down, people such as Lia are conflicted with themselves for being "imposters;" for being the entitled, obnoxious people they have shown themselves to be?

How do we know this? And if it is true, what are the implications going forward? So, I am a bit confused about the last part.

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This is a complicated issue, and there are many books (generally psychoanalytic) that have been written about people who have "Cluster B" personality disorders (borderline, narcissistic, histrionic, antisocial, and mixtures of these). What is described are interpersonal processes that are "invisible" with respect to their underlying strategies (manipulation, conscious and unconscious).

With respect to the trans identified men and women who are entering women's athletic events, I imagine that their motives are entirely self-serving. I infer that they want to "win" and be viewed as "the best," and are willing to cheat to do it. A few years ago when I still watched cable news, I heard Caitlyn Jenner describe the behavior of these athletes as "unethical," which I think is the best way to describe it. The willingness to trample others to get to the top, so that one can be seen on a winner's pedestal without having fairly won, speaks to narcissistic motives and behaviors. In these cases, the other athletes and everyone else involved are irrelevant and unimportant to the narcissistically motivated. That is, they are not being targeted, just ignored and dismissed.

An example of projection would be the accusation that some contingent of Americans is out to exterminate trans people ("genocide"). In reality, the trans activists are among the most aggressive, mean, even violent group on the left. It is likely, however, that many of them genuinely believe that they are being targeted for destruction by some vague enemy, e.g., the inhabitants of Florida. The hostile intent and behaviors they attribute to others are what the activists themselves feel and do, but they deny it because they must maintain a view of themselves as good, innocent, even perfect. When other people seek to defend themselves against the activists' attacks, the activists then interpret the self-defensive behavior of the other person as an unprovoked attack on themselves. This is the unconscious mechanism in paranoia.

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I fail to see how the prior poster (Sandra) is ‘gaslighting’ anyone. She articulates the obvious similarities between the trans argument and those groups with clinical psychological issues (board line and narcissistic personalities, each a diagnosis well known in psychology. That is factual. Also, I see nothing that can be termed ad hominem -- meaning directed against a person rather than the position being articulated. She names no one and in fact, her argument is focused directly on the trans position. In your vein, perhaps you are simply offering 'dog whistles' to the trans activists as you have no serious argumentation to offer.

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I think you totally misunderstood my comment. I was not accusing Sandra of “gaslighting” but rather trying to understand and articulate the gaslighting trans activists engage in. Sandra and I are 100% in agreement.

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Sep 20, 2023·edited Sep 20, 2023

Unfortunately, it's just been announced that the Governor of Massachusetts, Maura Healey, (who otherwise seemed to be a good Governor) decided to institute a new curriculum for sex education in public schools. This curriculum was designed to "update" the topic to include "gender identity" introducing the topic starting in kindergarten. I wonder if she's being pressured by the Trans Terrorists to capitulate to their agenda or face constant obstacles and attacks on her policies. It's imaginable the mental and emotional havoc it will cause 4 to 14 year olds to suggest that they might not really know what their actual identity and role in life is! The youngest being devoid of any experience to judge what is or isn't possible and the adolescents struggling with the upheaval and stress of puberty. What could go wrong?!

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It's nuts. Kids should not be asked to ruminate on which stereotypes they fit or whether they hate their sexed body (surprise! many kids hate their sexed body at some point growing up, doesn't mean there is anything wrong with your body!).

Your role in life is not determined by your sex, your role in reproduction is. Though....these kids will have their reproductive capabilities harmed, or removed, along with other medical harm from the drugs/surgeries.

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Sep 20, 2023Liked by Colin Wright

Good and helpful article, but you have an error in the text: "Kids now learn about gender identity at school, and read books about kids, like Jazz Jennings, who had 'a girl body but a boy brain'." You have that backwards. It is stated correctly in the illustration -- Jazz claimed to have a girl brain in a boy's body.

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Good catch—fixed!

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Oops, thank you so much for catching and for fixing!

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I think I actually introduced that error in my edit when I tried to directly quote I Am Jazz. I swore I checked it to make sure I hadn't reversed it, but somehow I still did! Apologies!

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"Many a slip twixt cup and lip; to err is human, to forgive divine." Though some say "To err is human, to edit is divine." 😉🙂

https://www.facebook.com/110088270823295/posts/to-err-is-human-to-edit-is-divine-this-grammarly-motto-says-it-all-editing-and-p/111076067391182/

But sadly, no matter how carefully one proof-reads, it seems there's always something that falls through the cracks.

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On a quick skim so far -- a lot to chew through there -- you've covered some important points. More of which later.

But I had wanted to pass along something from Amanda MacLean's rather brilliant "Decoupled From Reality" that speaks to that "girl/boy body but boy/girl brain":

AM: "Reductionist disciplines that look at different parts of organisms - such as genes, tissues, physiology or neurobiology - use the words ‘male’ and ‘female’ as shorthand for ‘of males/females’ or ‘typical of males/females’. ..."

https://weeklyworker.co.uk/worker/1247/decoupled-from-reality/

As I've argued in a conversation with "Hippiesq", the mother of a dysphoric teenage daughter; QUOTE:

A "male brain" is the "brain OF a male" or that is, to some extent, "typical of a male".

But something of a rather brilliant insight, one that I hadn't thought of before, but, once seen, it provided quite a bit of illumination. Almost a "Road to Damascus" revelation ... 🙂

And particularly relevant to a fairly common but pretty solid definition for the sexes that I've been touting for some time:

"male (adjective): Of or denoting the sex that produces gametes, especially spermatozoa ..."

https://web.archive.org/web/20190608135422/https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/male

That leading "of" is the ticket; it emphasizes or is part and parcel of MacLean's point. I'd subsequently looked up "of" which Merriam-Webster informed me is a preposition:

"of (preposition): expressing the relationship between a part and a whole.

'the sleeve of his coat' ..."

The "male brain" is the "brain part" OF the organism which is a male; the brain itself isn't the male. Which only acquires that designation "male" because of its reproductive status -- potential or actual ... 🙂

UNQUOTE

https://humanuseofhumanbeings.substack.com/p/is-nothing-sacred-looking-into-the/comment/40309538

Though I was thinking later that that "typical of" is somewhat problematic. What about a male who has a "female brain", one that is, to some extent, a bit more typical of females? Does he have BOTH a male brain -- because he's male -- AND a female brain because it bears some similarities with a typical female brain?

As Francis Bacon put it some 400 years ago, "shoddy and inept uses of words lays siege to the intellect in wondrous ways".

The "debate" over sex and gender in a nutshell.

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Sep 20, 2023Liked by Colin Wright

Excellent synopsis of where we're at. Thank you, Lisa.

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Agree. I actually laughed out loud at “and it’s unclear how you reconcile sex with genderfuck, or change the body to match it.”

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Like trying to square the circle? 😉🙂

Though not entirely, but it kind of depends on how you define both "sex" and "gender" in the first place, the latter in particular.

"Nice" comment on that score by "Hippiesq", the mother of a dysphoric teenage daughter:

Hippiesq: "If 'gender identity' were just the degree and specificity of feminine and masculine qualities, it might have some real usefulness in terms of being able to discuss differing personality traits - and maybe that was the origin of the term."

https://humanuseofhumanbeings.substack.com/p/is-nothing-sacred-looking-into-the/comment/21199572

The problem is that too many are "reluctant" or unable to define their terms with the requisite degree of precision, accuracy, and intellectual honesty. As philosopher Will Durant put it relative to a quote of Voltaire:

Durant: “ 'If you wish to converse with me,' said Voltaire, 'define your terms.' How many a debate would have been deflated into a paragraph if the disputants had dared to define their terms! This is the alpha and omega of logic, the heart and soul of it, that every important term in serious discourse shall be subjected to strictest scrutiny and definition. It is difficult, and ruthlessly tests the mind; but once done it is half of any task."

https://quotefancy.com/quote/3001527/Will-Durant-If-you-wish-to-converse-with-me-said-Voltaire-define-your-terms-How-many-a

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Reading a book on Blue Zones... where people tend to live longer lives. One of the components is the low stress of cultural harmony. The knowing of self... who am I and what is my purpose.

The gender identity mess today is just a sub project in the larger project from two power-seeking cabals. One is the collection of socioeconomic and cultural malcontents, or left radicals, that always exist and are always trying to deconstruct the system that they cannot figure out how to integrate with. The other is the wealthy, elite managerial class that has almost everything but cannot control its driving greed to want more and more and more. Together they form a bizarre partnership with a shared interest and commitment to injecting chaos and conflict into society... even though both have different expected outcomes that are fantastically irrational.

The left radicals are involved in pushing change that will ultimately reduce their opportunities for socioeconomic achievement. If they wreck the system some might feel better about themselves by comparison, and some might ascend to greater positions of status in the increased administrative state... but most will be more miserable.

The moneyed elite will also suffer. Some will ascend in a greater corporatocracy married to the global administrative power that takes over, but most will find their paths to economic and social status opportunity depleted.

And on top of these negative long-term outcomes the chaos being pushed into society, the woke ideology that rejects traditions of gender, family, etc.. is reducing human happiness and life expectancy across the board.

It is a sad realization that the people need to rise up in aggressive defense of the direction of these two cohorts if only to save them from themselves. I do my part by continually reminding anyone I talk to about gender that there are two, and that it is biological and physically identified at birth. And that there are gender differences that are biological, and that a functioning culture needs to accept those differences and celebrate them.

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Actually (speaking as the sister of a Developmental Psychologist of the research kind, who recently has talked to me about the original sense of being a particular gender is acquired -- at some length, I might add) -- Basically we are not born with any gender identity at all.

What we are born with is the rudiments of a personality (inherited, and influenced in utero). The only thing that makes anything into gender is the preferential but culture-dependent labeling of certain human characteristics (possessed by us all, in varying degrees) as "masculine" -- that is, "suitable for and/or limited to boys and men" or "feminine" -- that isn't "suitable for and/or limited to girls and women".

Let's say (just for argument's sake) a male baby is born with equal amounts of the potential for various human character qualities (nurturance, competitiveness, empathy, aggression, emotional sensitivity, kindness, bravery, etc.). Even as a small child, both consciously or unconsciously that boy will likely be reinforced in certain character qualities (the "masculine" ones) and if not actually discouraged in the "feminine" ones, they may nevertheless not be encouraged as strongly as they are in his sister.

So yes, some of what is called "feminine" or "masculine" is innate in a child, but it is not inherently anything but human.

However, it's shaped very early by the parents, and shortly, too, by their peers. into something approaching "boyness" and "girlness". Peer "instruction" and comparison of oneself with others (one's peers) of the same sex will gradually lead to internalization of a particular "gender identity" which is actually not fully the case until a child is about eight. (Asking a kindergartner what gender they think they "really" are (after explaining to them that some kids are "born in the wrong body" iis a bad idea.)

There are a few kids whose inherent personality is both resistent to early shaping, and such that the child's character qualities are, on balance, weighted more toward those society in its wisdom labelled as suitable for/limited to the other sex.

Let's say this is the case with an "effeminate" little boy, who is resistant to his father's attempts to "masculinize"him, and as a consequence prefers to play with girls and do the sorts of things provided for girls. He may eventually wonder if he is "really a girl" or he may wish he were one.

These days such kids are often transitioned socially, eventually placed on puberty blockers, and then operated on without ever having gone through male puberty.

The thing is, though, that there are 11 good studies showing that if simply allowed to be kids, and not forced in either direction, a large majority (60-90%) of these boys will stop "feeling like a girl" at puberty, and turn out to be Gay. Others just become sensitive, empathetic straight men (oh, the horror!) And a few of them will ultimately decide to transition.

Basically, transitioning effeminate little boys is absolutely a form of "conversion therapy", and what is more, among kids who present later as "Trans", a large percentage of them are same-sex attracted, too. It's criminal, all the more so because LGB folks who protest this are vilified as being disgusting, dangerous transphobes.

And of course, even though the phenomenon of "tomboys" has long been socially tolerated, plenty of "masculine" girls are getting social encouragement/pressure to transition, too. And many (not all) of them would in the normal course of events turn out to be Lesbians.

And don't even get her (my sister) started on the subject of adolescent girls who suddenly, at, or slightly after puberty, which is tough for girls, and even tougher if you happen to be on the autism Spectrum, and nearly impossible if you have other issues, decide they don't feel like girls. In addition, upper middle class, smart white (including lots of Jewish) kids are not heavily "gender socialized" on principle, and may realize they aren't particularly "feminine".

(My girls are like that. One of them thinks she's "agender", and the other is currently "nonbinary" and thinking she might be a boy. Talk about injustice -- I'm a 2nd wave Feminist, I think gender is a set of sexist prescriptions, and my kids regressively believe that patriarchal leftovers are what make you a woman, and they think I'm too backward to know anything worth listening to. Is there no God?)

)

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Males are not born equipotential for all personality traits, I’d avoid that idea, which is false, a myth.

Males are born with a huge cognitive bias for specific personality traits, a bias generation which begins at 9 weeks when the male fetus starts generating testosterone for itself, a result of having a Y chromosome. Sex is determined at conception, along with innumerable traits.

As an example, there are a class of neurotransmitters unique to male fetuses which shapes sexual response to females.

The myth propagated that often is propagated is that newborns are all equal with respect to cognitive sex traits, and that all sex-stereotyped behaviors are imprinted by society. It’s false, demonstrated by volumes of credible research, should be discarded.

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I am not saying people are blank slates. I was also not saying there are no differences between males and females. Testosterone indeed adds an activity and physical aggression and future sex-drive difference. So yes, average differences in character and personality DO confirm the sex binary, and the cognitive effects of a male set of directions or a female one.

But that wasn't what I was talking about. I was pointing out -- as was pointed out to me -- that the huge overlap between the two curves demonstrates that all potential human characteristics are possessed by all human beings, male and female, many of them completely equally between men and women. Yes, there are extremely "feminine" or "masculine" outliers, but most people lie under the overlap in the curves. It is therefore actually not possible to predict which sex a person has, based on an examination only of their personality characteristics. What this means is, that the supposed differences used in describing "gender" are heavily PREscriptive, and not significantly DEscriptive of what most men and women are actually like. And those social prescriptions are difficult-to-oust

leftovers from an old patriarchal attempt to limit women to the lower-status private sphere, and justify their exclusion from higher-impact and higher-status activities. This was done by emphasizing women's supposed broad and fundamental differences from men which universally rendered them temperamentally unsuited to, or intellectually incapable of, carrying out "men's" tasks or participating in "men's" society.

Once most of the man-on-woman bullying was physical (though that still exists!), but it was gradually transformed into gaslighting by a bigger and stronger group not burdened with gestation and nursing, over the other. Men, it was said, being brave and decisive and rational, should run things, and women, supposedly being fearful, and hesitant and emotional, should do what men wisely tell them to do. Despite the fact that most men are perfectly capable of cowardice and irrationality, and most women also possess the potential courage and decisiveness (though a lifetime of being "squashed" both by a male-dominated society and by self-fulfilling prophecy, and directly by men themselves, does tend to attenuate confidence in a woman's abilities.)

My point is, bluntly, that even in spite of an obvious sex binary, and physical differences, including cognitive differences, yielding some average (only average) differences in language and mathematical ability, etc., and hormonal differences that produce in men a greater propensity to express dominance and aggression physically, (as opposed to by ostracism and slander, which is something many women do), what I am calling "gender" is mostly not inherent. It is an internalized set of social prescriptions. What that means is that basing one's fundamental identity exclusively on gender rather than on sex, is sort of like buying a really juicy novel as a gift, but only actually presenting the recipient with the paper sleeve that came on the outside. Gender is presented as a description of "what men/women are (inherently) like" (or often these days, "what it means to BE a man or a woman.") My local expert confirms that this is a) not really true for most people and b) tends to conceal its prescriptive nature (which both exaggerates the inherent divergence of men and woman, and reinforces the cultivation of "appropriate" and "inappropriate" qualities in each from childhood.), and c) also conceals the origin of those prescriptions.

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Well, you said something as to the effect “imagine if male and female infants are born a blank slate”. I can also imagine if male and female infants are born with no limbs, and they develop limbs over a decade or two. But that’s nonsense of course. Likewise male and female infants are born with neuroanatomy which - beginning literally in the first nine weeks - is shaped differently. So no male and female infants are born blank slates. It’s a pervasive myth that is often repeated as a thought exercise to create the impression that it is “one of many possibilities”, but it is not. Children are imprinted differently neuroanatomically by sex beginning a few weeks after the heart starts beating.

For a neutral analogy, males emerge with a north pointing magnet, girls with a south pointing magnet. The strength of the magnetic pull can be strong or weak, but it’s north and south. There is never an absence of a magnetic orientation. Having a southern pull, girl personalities develop with an orientation which has a southern influence, but not necessarily 100% southern pull. Likewise for boys. Some features may be due East for both, which gives the impression there is an overlap, but boys arrive a the orientation from a north direction, girls vice-versa. The path is different and the traits are different. More if you’re interested.

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I'm not understanding what you mean by your analogy. Can you give me specific examples?

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"Basically we are not born with any gender identity at all. What we are born with is the rudiments of a personality (inherited, and influenced in utero)."

I ran headlong into this on Reddit recently in a thread about the state of Kansas' decision to no longer permit people to change their gender identity on their birth certificate. I hailed this as a positive development as Kansas should not be in the business of permitting people to falsify their birth certificates.

I made the point that neonates lack a gender. The one commenter who engaged with my idea instead of wishing me dead or gone from Kansas said something to the effect that "everyone knows that babies are famously born without brains, only genitals." I imagine the commenter has fallen for the idea that infants are capable of not only possessing a gender identity but deciding to identify as the opposite gender.

By the way, I am taking the original poster's word for it that the Kansas birth certificate actually states or stated a person's gender. I wouldn't be surprised if by now some trans allies no longer understand the difference between sex and gender. It would be loopy for a state to record gender on a birth certificate unless it was going far out of its way to pander to trans activists' demands to erase history so as not to upset the fiction.

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Gender is an immaterial fiction. Sex is real. Sex-linked behaviors are real and measurable from birth. I would discard the concept of gender as a legitimate attribute of humans. Animals have a sex, not a gender, and sex-linked behaviors. Humans are animals and inherit all of that reality.

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Many people quite reasonably DEFINE "gender" to BE those sexually dimorphic personality traits:

"Modular Genetic Control of Sexually Dimorphic Behaviors"

https://www.cell.com/fulltext/S0092-8674(11)01571-6

"Sexually Dimorphic Behavior

Many animal behaviors differ between the sexes and are therefore referred to as sexually dimorphic (dimorphic means having two forms). Most of these sexually dimorphic behaviors are part of the reproductive repertoire."

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK10975/#__NBK10975_dtls__

"Feminist Perspectives on Sex and Gender:

2.2 Gender as feminine and masculine personality

Nancy Chodorow (1978; 1995) has criticised social learning theory as too simplistic to explain gender differences (see also Deaux & Major 1990; Gatens 1996). Instead, she holds that gender is a matter of having feminine and masculine personalities that develop in early infancy as responses to prevalent parenting practices. ...."

https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2017/entries/feminism-gender/#GenFemMasPer

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Many people thought multiple personalities were real; many people thought recovered memories were real; the Nobel prize committee awarded a prize to a man who believed mutilation of brains was a solution to uppity women. The Catholic Church believes that schizophrenia is actually demonic possession.

The beauty of science is that once an idea is shown to be false, it eventually is discarded as an explanation of reality. Astrology, physiognomy, gender, humours, race, pseudo-science all. I’m waiting for IQ to be abandoned.

You know what I will say, as I’ve said it before. Gender is a linguistic attribute, not a human attribute. The collection of sex-linked behaviors in humans is a collection of sex-linked behaviors, attributing them to a pseudoscientific term guarantees perpetually indefinite meaning as the term’s immeasurable meaning fluctuates day-to-day, use-to-use.

Animals have a sex, they don’t have a gender. Humans are animals. We have a sex, not a gender.

We use gender to render grammatically consistent language.

Understanding that would do a world of good.

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Sufeitzy: "Many people thought multiple personalities were real ..."

So what? Do you seriously think that the results of the studies in that 4th Wave article which Colin co-authored, the ones that show substantial degrees of variation on personality traits by sex, were all bogus? Made up? Fudged? Cut from whole cloth?

https://4thwavenow.com/2019/08/19/no-child-is-born-in-the-wrong-body-and-other-thoughts-on-the-concept-of-gender-identity/

I wonder if you ever looked at the graph therein or understood it if you did -- I've certainly posted it often enough for you to have seen it. But you seem to think that if a personality trait is found, say, in males then it can't possibly be found in females. And vice versa. That graph shows quite explicitly that that is not at all the case.

That is largely what "gender", at best, encapsulates or describes: some traits are more typical of females and are CALLED "feminine", and some traits are more typical of males and are CALLED "masculine". But they are, in general, NOT exclusive to either sex.

Sufeitzy: "Gender is a linguistic attribute, not a human attribute."

Sure -- "linguistic attribute" is ONE use of "gender". But it's NOT the only one. Just because it may have had that use historically does not mean it can't be pressed into use for other applications. Hardly an uncommon or untenable phenomenon.

For example, "male" and "female" are conventionally used to denote the presence of gonads (functional or otherwise) of either of two types. But at least since the 1660s those terms have also been used to denote convex and concave mating surfaces -- a clear analogue to human genitalia:

https://www.etymonline.com/word/male#etymonline_v_6731

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_of_connectors_and_fasteners

Do you seriously think that we should stop using "male" and "female" for electrical connectors because of their use as sexes? Seems that that is basically what you're arguing for in excluding "gender" from denoting sexually dimorphic personality traits.

Sufeitzy: "Humans are animals. We have a sex, not a gender."

By some more or less recent stipulative definitions, we have both: sex -- defined as the presence of either of two types of gonads (functional or not) -- AND genders -- defined as various personality traits that tend to be more typical of one sex than the other.

Recognizing that dichotomy is what I expect would do "more" in the way of a "world of good".

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Thank you so much for addressing the ambiguities surrounding the term "gender identity." I studied Stoller's work during the 1970's and thought it was helpful at first in talking about masculinity/femininity versus bio sex, but in reviewing his work recently I saw that his definition of "gender identity" changed in the nonsensical ways you described. Gender activists love confusing language, presumably for a number of reasons, most of all that they are so confused about their own identities. It is helpful to become more precise in our own understanding, so that we can recognize their efforts to transfer their confusion to us and block them.

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Seem to recollect that you had brought Stoller up in a conversation we were having here on RLS several months ago -- possibly predating both Lisa and Byrne picking up on it.

But quite agree with your "Stoller ... helpful at first in talking about masculinity/femininity versus bio sex ... [but then] changed in the nonsensical ways you described". Something emphasized by Byrne's letter:

AB: "Given that Stoller’s book famously drew a distinction between sex (male and female) and gender ('the amount of masculinity or femininity found in a person,' p. 9), it is ironic that 'gender' in Stoller and Greenson’s 'gender identity' could have been replaced by 'sex.' ..."

https://philpapers.org/archive/BYRTOO-7.pdf

Though not sure that Byrne himself isn't stuck in that "nonsensical camp":

AB: "The original clear definition of 'gender identity' as 'the sense of knowing to which sex one belongs' has now been lost."

"Clear" as mud, particularly as the "amount of masculinity or femininity" is far more logically coherent, tractable, and consistent, largely with "sexually dimorphic personality traits", a fairly solid position taken by many quite credible sources.

But apropos of which, and in case you missed my previous comments here and on my own Substack, "Hippiesq" -- the mother of a dysphoric teenage daughter -- also usefully endorses that concept of "masculinity or femininity":

Hippiesq: "If 'gender identity' were just the degree and specificity of feminine and masculine qualities, it might have some real usefulness in terms of being able to discuss differing personality traits - and maybe that was the origin of the term."

https://humanuseofhumanbeings.substack.com/p/is-nothing-sacred-looking-into-the/comment/21199572

Indeed. Recognizing feminine males and masculine females simply as "gender non-conforming" might go some distance in forestalling "gender-affirming care", AKA the butchering of dysphoric and/or autistic children.

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Sep 21, 2023·edited Sep 21, 2023

Hi Steersman! You are correct, you and I discussed the need to define "gender identity" so as to make it more useful in discussions about the continuous variables of "masculinity" and "femininity."

I did follow up on your discussion with Hippiesq on this point.

The gender activists and some people who suffer from conflict about their sexual identities have a lot of investment in seeing their experience as more normal than those of the majority of people. This motivates them to keep terms like "gender identity" as incoherent and ambiguous as possible. Many other people are confusing continuous with dichotomous variables because the difference has not been shown to them. The latter group will become more able to withstand the manipulations of gender activists if they can remain clear about the qualitative difference between these two types of variables.

Regarding the "gender nonconforming" concept, it strongly applies to those individuals who are on the extreme ends of the distributions for feminine/masculine variables. Interestingly, however, social acceptance and use of the favorably regarded "butch" identity label has apparently not dissuaded young butch lesbians from wanting to medically transition. In addition, many of the current crop of adolescent girls who claim to be non-binary, trans, etc., are NOT gender incongruent, but instead are feminine in their appearance, mannerisms, and so on.

Regardless of the potential cultural impact of increasing acceptance for gender nonconformity, I do think that boys and men should have a lot more room to explore whatever styles of clothing, hair and cosmetics they want to try out. Among the guys who like to cross dress for whatever reasons, loosening of cultural restrictions on men's fashions would relieve much of the shame that cross dressers experience. You could also be right that if boys were free to wear dresses and lace and such we would see fewer of them getting classified as something other than normal.

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I would gently push you to consider that when you write “gender identity” it has no more meaning than thinking of “Dungeons and Dragons identity” as in “I identify as a Kobold”. “Gender Identify” is a “character” in a complex LARP or “Live Action Role Play” where a person adopts a character and attributes and pretends that the role and character exists in a game reality distinct from reality. Someone can identify as anything within the fiction game world. In real life there is sex which is determined at conception and cannot be discarded or altered any more than a brain or skeleton. Every time you read or hear “gender” or “gender identify” realize that is part of a fictional game like world which accurately according to Judith Butler is performed, distinct from reality.

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When I write "gender identity" in quotations, it means that I personally am not using that term as a verbal symbol that refers to a real thing. I am challenging the use of this term on the basis that it is poorly defined and used to refer to both a dichotomous variable (bio sex), two continuous variables ("masculinity/femininity"), as well as a fantasy self that lies beyond scientific investigation. I think the third use of the term is similar to what you are talking about (right?).

In your post, however, you use examples of conscious performances by actors. Method actors report that they sometimes do get so immersed in their assigned characters that the boundary between performance and real self becomes blurred, but generally they can return to their real identity when they need to do so. People who experience gender dysphoria can be much more confused than this, based on what they have told me and what I have read about their self-images. They tend to talk about "feeling like" a member of the other sex, and having an inner self of the other sex that co-exists with a self of their real sex, or ultimately, entirely replaces the self that is congruent with their bio sex. If they choose to actually live as a member of the other sex, they also might get coaching on how to "act like" a member of the preferred sex, in terms of physical gestures, voice register and so on. These behaviors are definitely performative, and are no different from what an actor does when playing the role of an opposite sexed person.

I would like to see the term "gender identity" retired from both casual and technical use, as it has no consistent definition.

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Sandra: "... useful in discussions about the continuous variables of 'masculinity' and 'femininity.' I did follow up on your discussion with Hippiesq on this point. ..."

Thanks. 🙂 As indicated there, I think that idea -- going back to Stoller as you had indicated -- is kind of crucial in separating wheat and chaff, in at least helping to "finally" resolve the transgender "issue".

Sandra: "Many other people are confusing continuous with dichotomous variables because the difference has not been shown to them. ... the extreme ends of the distributions for feminine/masculine variables."

An important distinction there between "continuous" and "dichotomous [binary] variables" -- something that many people, including many biologists, tend to stumble over. Seem to recollect that Colin attempted to clarify that difference several years ago:

https://twitter.com/SwipeWright/status/1233299010456174593

As for "extreme ends", you might have some interest in an article, co-authored by Colin, at "4th Wave Now" that had a nice graphical illustration of that quite important idea:

https://4thwavenow.com/2019/08/19/no-child-is-born-in-the-wrong-body-and-other-thoughts-on-the-concept-of-gender-identity/

But, sadly, many people -- even those who should know better -- don't have even a rudimentary understanding of statistics. Which tends to cause some "problematic" (mis)interpretations of data that can really only be presented in that graphical format. Part of the reason for my recent post on the topic -- "Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics":

https://humanuseofhumanbeings.substack.com/p/lies-damned-lies-and-statistics

Bonus there is a rudimentary but fully interactive Mathematica program that can be downloaded and used to illustrate some of those basic principles.

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I would add on to this discussion as follows.

First, I agree that there is only a choice of "male" or "female" when it comes to one's sex. Most DSD's do nothing to draw that into question, as they involve a difference of development of a "male" or of a "female." For the very few DSD's where the organs and even the DNA are so mixed as to make it unclear whether such a person should be classified as "male" or "female," this doesn't actually draw the dichotomy into question, as it is an anomaly. As I've said before, humans are bipedal. This does not change simply because some people are born with only one leg, or no legs, or perhaps three legs. For the few truly unclear cases, these people should be allowed to choose whether they want to be categorized as "male," "female," both, neither, or something else, and not required to have surgeries they may not want in order to make their genitals more "normal." (Of course, if they want to have such a surgery, they should be allowed to do that.)

For the rest of us, there is no choice. We are what our biology tells us. That having been said, we each have our own mix of "masculine," "feminine," and more gender neutral characteristics that, as Steersman's quote from me indicates, could be said to be our "gender identity." Such an identity - which could change over time, or even day-to-day, and will change in accordance with differing societies that may consider different qualities as "masculine" or "feminine" - is intrinsic and personal and not subject to challenge. As a parent, I would accept any preferences for the feminine or masculine or a mix thereof that my child finds most comfortable, and allow for same to change over time.

However, this definition of a "gender identity" would NEVER require a "male" to identify as a "female" or vice versa, and it would NEVER require any medical interventions to create a pretense of the opposite sex, or to somehow neutralize one's sexed appearance (e.g. using puberty blockers to prevent any sexual development, or so-called "gender nullification" surgery to make genitals appear neither male nor female).

As you both said, acceptance of a person's masculine or feminine tendencies (particularly acceptance of effeminate males and masculine females) will go a long way toward preventing the need for many to live as if they are the opposite sex in order to feel accepted in society, thus, to my mind, decreasing the number of adults who might ultimately choose to medically transition and live as if they are the opposite sex. Because of the medical and psychological burdens of medical transition and living a "stealth" life as the opposite sex, I consider not feeling compelled to transition a positive thing. This in no way disrespects those who have made such a choice.

Lastly, to the extent that a "gender identity" may have started out as simply one's understanding of one's actual biological reality, that would have been a fine way of using the phrase. "Gender identity disorder" would have meant one's inability to accept or bear with one's gender identity, or one's awareness of one's biological reality.

Because some people wanted to de-stigmatize medical transition, it may be that the term was changed to refer not to one's understanding of one's biological reality, but instead to one's chosen biological sex, as if we have such a choice. That is, if a "female" truly wished she were a "male" and could not accept her "female" reality, now her "gender identity" became "male" instead of "female" because she would choose to be "male" rather than "female."

(Destigmatization should involve making it acceptable to have a mental and/or emotional disorder. By denying that the inability to accept one's biolgical sex is a disorder, we're attempting to normalize this issue rather than actually destigmatizing mental illness. It's as if, instead of saying that it's not an embarrassment to have bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, we start saying that it's perfectly normal to have wild swings of emotion or to be out of touch with reality and suffer auditory and visual delusions, and this is just another variation of the human experience. This attempt to destigmatize by normalizing instead of accepting that problems do exist is yet another problem with gender ideology that needs to be addressed.)

Mangling "gender identity" to now refer to a wish rather than a reality, while at the same time pretending it is an objective term, has created confusion. We are now pretending that a "gender identity" - how one wishes one was born because one believes this would have been a better fit - is an objective truth that one should act on by doing everything possible to pretend that such a choice actually exists, including treating anyone with an opposite sex "gender identity" as if they were the opposite sex and giving them every medical option to appear as if they are the opposite sex. This mangling of "gender identity" has pushed a generation toward unnecessary medical and psychological harm.

Instead, if we use "gender identity" to refer to one's sense of how one might potentially be comfortable living in the world (ie. I would make a great man and be more successful than I will be if I am a woman!), then we must accept both that such a state of mind is both subject to change as one matures, and that it represents a naive sense of the future. That is, while some of us may indeed live better if they live "as if" they were the opposite sex, there is no way to know for whom that might be true, and we have to remember the classic phrase: "the grass is always greener on the other side." If I move next door, I may indeed find greener grass, or I may come to see that the sun shining to the east or the west makes my neighbor's lawn look greener and I moved for nothing (with all the inconvenience and cost of moving).

Why we would sterilize and mutilate a generation of vulnerable young people based on a naive "grass is greener" thought is beyond me.

Sorry for the rant, but I remain shocked at the absurdity of what's happening.

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Sep 23, 2023·edited Sep 23, 2023

I agree with your whole post.

I would just add that I also question the use of the terms "masculine/feminine," which is why I put them in quotes. We know that some of the behaviors, preferences and roles that are included under these terms are actually biologically linked to sex. Other behaviors, preferences and roles that are included under these terms are culturally prescribed for boys and girls, men and women, even though they are not linked to sex. Still others are behaviors, preferences and roles that do not form two overlapping distributions for men and women (i.e., it is a myth that these variables are more prevalent in one or the other sex). When these terms first came into the English language, the understanding of sex differences was simpler than it is now. It was "men are like this" "women are like that" to a greater degree than is currently true (although not everyone bought into these beliefs at any time in history).

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Totally agree, and perhaps wise to put them in quotes.

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Excellent summary. New to me was the concept of diagnosing young women who claim to identify as male as autogynophilic, a term Blanchard coined to refer to men who identify as women. I find this useful in understanding the huge surge in young women wanting to opt out of their sex in these misogynistic and homophobic times.

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Suggestion for getting the word out in "woke" neighborhoods you pass through: pay it forward by ordering copies of Trans by Helen Joyce, Irreversible Damage by Abigail Shrier, Kara Dansky's book about 'gender" replacing sex in the law, Sex Change by Christine Benvenuto or my book, In the Curated Woods, (there are many more candidates). Then after reading, place one in those Little Free Libraries, or sneak one into a doctor's waiting room, or other table, shelf, nook or cranny. Here's my second subversive contribution across the street from PS 107, where the books are on a fancy display with front covers visible: https://www.youtube.com/shorts/ATZM7PRokJA

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Excellent article, thank you so much for writing it. I’ve been struggling to put these concepts into words myself when trying to explain to people just how radically the understanding of “trans” has changed. And the fact that I’d been loosely following the subject since the nineties (beginning when I was still a teenager!) was one of the reasons I caught on to these weird shifts relatively early. The current “understanding” of trans obviates any need for a differential diagnosis which is why the damage has been so profound. Your express this point so well. ❤️

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Sep 20, 2023·edited Sep 20, 2023

From the article: "These clinicians were working with similar, small populations: feminine boys; people with intersex conditions (then known as hermaphrodites); and transsexuals, as they were called, who were convinced they should have been, or desperately wanted to be, the opposite sex. "

Perhaps it's an omission, but interesting that masculine girls are not included. Decades ago I read a good deal about the pathologizing discourses vis a vis homosexuality and immediately noticed that they centered 99% of time on male effeminacy. Rarely were lesbians mentioned, in fact, almost never mentioned.

In terms of the number of "genders", I have read that any noun or fractions of nouns combined can be a gender. So, the number of genders is infinite. In other words, endless signifiers absent their signifieds.

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The people who referred themselves to psychologists, psychiatrists and gender clinics from the 1970's until quite recently were overwhelmingly male. So, that is who clinicians generally worked with. They referred themselves to mental health professionals in larger numbers during the 1990's, when "sexual reassignment surgeries" for males had been greatly improved. Similar surgeries for females have still not been developed. At the same time, gender incongruent women were welcomed by many people in the lesbian community, and were increasingly able to wear men's clothes and haircuts in their more public roles.

A local author and consultant on transgender issues, Reid Vanderburgh, published a book in 2007 called "Transitions and Beyond, Observations on Gender Identity." It is especially informative about females who choose to live as men. Mr. Vanderburgh is a trans man who has served as a resource for many people who are exploring or struggling with their own identities or trying to help others who are. He speaks from extensive experience talking to women who are on the masculine spectrum relative to other females, which suggests that these women may be more inclined to seek information and support from trans men or professionals who have specialized in understanding their particular issues.

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I have been reading and thinking about the concept of gender for quite a while now. Last week I also attended a workshop on gender: this was run by the university I work at (I am an academic, although my field of speciality is not sex or gender). Could someone be kind enough to tell me if my analysis of the situation, as articulated below, is reasonable.

If I have understood correctly, this is how the concepts of man and woman are defined in gender identity ideology.

Woman: a feeling that can mean anything to anyone at any time.

Man: a feeling that can mean anything to anyone at any time.

These definitions are so vague that they are without boundaries. There are no longer any identifiable characteristics associated with the concepts man and woman, which makes it difficult to see how they can be meaningful, useful categories – particularly given that the same definition works for both. ‘Man’ and ‘woman’ are now inalienable feelings that have no necessary consistency across a population, meaning that a subjective ‘feeling’ that could be interpreted as ‘man’ for one person could be interpreted alternatively as ‘woman’ by another. It is now impossible to know what ‘man’ or ‘woman’ is, since the concepts are coloured by a subjective belief that is somewhat spiritual in nature, and this personal nature of belief has come to trump external, material reality.

Many thanks!

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Language matters and definitions matter a lot. There is an official UN definition of gender that seems to make more sense than others yet is usually ignored:

The UN definition of gender refers to ‘socially constructed identities, attributes and roles for women and men and society’s social and cultural meaning for these biological differences resulting in hierarchical relationships between women and men and in the distribution of power and roles favouring men and disadvantaging women.'

I wonder how closely it reflects your own thinking?

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A yeoman’s effort Lisa; you’re to be commended for at least trying to separate wheat and chaff, to bring some enlightenment to the masses. However, one can’t help but get the impression that you’re starting off on the wrong foot, that you’re simply chasing your tail. Though you at least recognize what I’d regard as the root of the problem: “The fact that gender identity is now vague, unmeasurable, completely subjective ...”

Moot exactly how you and far too much of society have gone off the rails from that point, but this suggests the primary cause of it:

LSD: “Yet [transwoman] Beyer believes that she is a woman, that gender identity is a deep sense of one’s sex, and that she’s female.”

But right out the chute there’s the question of what do you MEAN by “female”? EITHER it’s an entirely subjective category based on some “je ne sais quoi” essence that anyone can claim to possess, and that there’s no one to gainsay otherwise. OR there are some objective criteria that MUST be met for anyone to qualify as a member of that category. It simply can’t be both, and certainly not simultaneously – that’s the problem: too many “thinking” that that is possible, desirable, or at all practical.

Consider what it MEANS to define a category – which is what “male” and “female” are -- and to be a member of one:

Wikipedia: “An intensional definition gives meaning to a term by specifying necessary and sufficient conditions for when the term should be used. In the case of nouns, this is equivalent to specifying the properties that an object needs to have in order to be counted as a referent of the term.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extensional_and_intensional_definitions

Moot exactly what are the “necessary and sufficient conditions” that, at least, any human “needs to have in order to be counted as a referent of the term” “female”. Somewhat “arbitrary” – there’s no intrinsic meaning to that word; we can’t put it on the operating table, dissect it, and eventually track down its inner essence, its “soul”. It means what we SAY it means – it can mean anything we want it to; pay the word extra.

But currently – depending crucially on whether we go with the Kindergarten Cop definitions, with several variations in folk-biology definitions, or with those endorsed by reputable biological journals and dictionaries --- it means either “vagina-haver”, “XX-haver", “possessor of ovaries of past, present, or future functionality”, or simply “functional ovaries”. One can sort of make a case for each of those definitions – they all specify SOME objectively quantifiable property that some humans MUST have to be counted as a referent of the term “female”.

But Beyer? Under no stretch of the imagination can one reasonably say that “she” has a vagina, is an XXer, or has, had, or will ever have any ovaries, functional or not. She doesn’t meet any of those “necessary and sufficient conditions”; ergo, not a female. Whatever she means by “female” is NOT what those of us grounded in reality mean by the term. And we shouldn’t thereby grant her any of the rights, opportunities or cachet that we grant, rightly or not, to those who DO meet those “necessary & sufficient conditions”.

Refusing to face those brute facts is, maybe arguably, the proximate cause for much of the dog’s breakfast that so many have turned both “sex” and “gender” into – a simple refusal or inability, politically motivated or not, to define exactly what we mean by the terms we bandy about with gay abandon. As philosopher Will Durant put it relative to a quote of Voltaire:

Durant: “ 'If you wish to converse with me,' said Voltaire, 'define your terms.' How many a debate would have been deflated into a paragraph if the disputants had dared to define their terms! This is the alpha and omega of logic, the heart and soul of it, that every important term in serious discourse shall be subjected to strictest scrutiny and definition. It is difficult, and ruthlessly tests the mind; but once done it is half of any task."

https://quotefancy.com/quote/3001527/Will-Durant-If-you-wish-to-converse-with-me-said-Voltaire-define-your-terms-How-many-a

If we really want to resolve the transgender issue then that is where we have to start. 

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It’s all a LARP, a type of D&D that people don’t understand as a game; and operate as though fictional terms were real. If people believed Dragons and Kobolds were real and attempted to impose legal penalties on Mis-dragoning they’d be committed.

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Don't see a particular problem if the "terms" in question denote more or less objective and quantifiable phenomena. For example, see the APA site that Lisa linked and their definition for "gender":

APA: "gender: 1. the condition of being male, female, or neuter. In a human context, the distinction between gender and sex reflects the usage of these terms: Sex usually refers to the biological aspects of maleness or femaleness, whereas gender implies the psychological, behavioral, social, and cultural aspects of being male or female (i.e., masculinity or femininity)."

https://dictionary.apa.org/gender

Rather vague on which "psychological, behavioral, social, & cultural aspects" come in under "masculinity or femininity" but still some solid evidence for the existence of significant and measurable dimorphism in those areas. However, "the condition of being male, female, or neuter" looks rather mumble-mouthed at best, if not an assertion that gender is synonymous with sex -- something that Alex Byrne more or less acknowledged:

Byrne: "... , it is ironic that 'gender' in Stoller and Greenson’s 'gender identity'

could have been replaced by 'sex.' ...."

https://philpapers.org/archive/BYRTOO-7.pdf

No wonder the whole topic is such an incoherent dog's breakfast.

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It’s disconcerting that we are still here reading about the pseudoscience of “gender”.

The pseudoscience of gender indeed originated with non-physician East-coast Dr. John Money as a way to create a scientific gloss over genital mutilation surgery on healthy infants. The genital mutilation surgery evolved under his oversight at John’s-Hopkins to the point of fully making a eunuch of a boy who suffered from penile amputation because of an error by a doctor who made an error during “ordinary” genital mutilation. Endless genital mutilation.

Psychological and Linguistic studies have an unfortunate history of attempting to locate theoretical linguistic concepts in the tissue of the brain, gender being the latest incarnation. Noam Chomsky was a linguist who claimed the human brain had a “Language Acquisition Device” or LAD which generated language and grammar. The brain has no “gender”; no neuroanatomical object which models the linguistic term “gender”. The brain as no LAD, no neuroanatomical object which models linguistic grammar. Likewise, there is no neuroanatomical object which models linguistic concepts of tense, case, number, mood, etc.

The brain does have a neuroanatomical object which creates and regulates conscious thoughts, emotions, and voluntary actions called the prefrontal cortex.

The Nobel-prize-winning scientist Egaz Monix (not physician) who invented the specious term “psychosurgery” was another who attempted to locate and manipulate personality traits in the brain via mutilation we call prefrontal lobotomy.

Applied often to women who were unruly and homosexual men, he conceived of and was an exponent of obliterating their brain tissue mistakenly thinking that he had located a neuroanatomical region which created female unruliness or homosexuality.

Gender is an immaterial fiction, and a pseudoscience having its roots in attempts to surgically mutilate humans to make them conform to bizarre ideas of how the brain and body work.

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From the article: "There are tens, maybe hundreds of purported gender identities. Per the powers that be—activist and advocacy groups influencing everything from curricula to medical guidelines—everyone has a gender identity, which is not a sense of sex but of gender."

Does this strike anyone as a newish version of recovered memories from the late 80s/early 90s fad/derangement?

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I’ve long said so, it’s a similar pseudoscience but that goes over most peoples heads I fear. Another way to think of it comes from postmodernist theory, turned on its head if you’re familiar with Judith Butler. Gender is the same as a character trait in Dungeons and Dragons or a Live Action Role Play game (LARP) which sprang up as a hobby or entertainment in the 80’s almost in parallel to the popularization of “gender”. It can be changed at a whim; has no basis in reality, assumes a complex set of rules (“pronouns”) and is a complete waste of timer.

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I like that beginning sentence:

"American culture is prone to psychological and medical contagions."

Many thanks...it's hard to verify personal conjectures because there is in the end so little that is covered on this topic in media...and when it is covered it tends largely to be as if from a trans talking point book.

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