Sunday, August 13, 2017

Don't believe in gender grab bag

(My Eastern New Mexico News column for July 12, 2017- I titled this one "Gender identity doesn't determine rights", which I still believe is better.)

Contrary to enlightened opinion, I believe there are only two genders, male and female-- with the occasional rare fluke of nature resulting in what used be to called a hermaphrodite.

I don't believe in the grab bag of genders which seems so trendy these days, nor do I believe in the validity of choosing non-binary gender identities, apart from those occasional rarities I mentioned above. I believe in biology.

Yes, it's a shameful confession, revealing one of my terrible shortcomings.

It is also a dangerous view, and a radical perspective, to admit publicly. It labels me, to those on the political Left, as a bigot. In some places, such as Canada, it could make me a criminal.

Yet, my beliefs are nothing but my opinion, and as such they are immaterial.

Because here's the thing which matters: Opinions don't dictate reality; reality is independent of mere opinion, and the reality is that your fundamental human rights don't depend on your gender. As a human you have the full complement of human rights--  life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness-- just because you are alive. End of story.

The outdated view, from back when people believed rights depended on who or what you were and could be added to or taken away, has run its course. It's out of steam. Time to discard that superstition and move on. It's why I see both sides of the argument over gender identities as socially destructive and a distraction.

Even if I think you are a little off-kilter, I will defend your rights, including your right to believe as you wish, up until the moment you try to violate the person or property of another. No one has a right to try to change your beliefs by force, including force of law, just as you have no right to dictate how others believe or speak. Anyone who tries to make up laws based on someone's gender, either to create rights which can't exist, or to take away rights which no one can take away, is wrong. It's simply not subject to legislation one way or the other.

The political Left is correct when it says no laws should be made to force people into gender boxes or punish those who don't fit, and the political Right is correct when it says no laws should force anyone to pretend, and speak as though they believe, someone's psychological issues reflect reality.

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  1. "I believe in biology."

    Um, no. You believe that the gender roles your culture has settled on in relation to the two main biological sexes are the only two valid ones. There's a difference.

    Trying to use biology to justify culture is pseudoscientific poppycock.

    1. XY chromosomes or XX chromosomes doesn't depend on culture or roles.

    2. Kent, what he really meant was, you don't believe the way that I do, so your belief system is wrong.

    3. Well, no.

      First of all, biological sex isn't as simple as XX = female and XY = male. There are XX males, XY females, and various trisomies. That's not a matter of opinion, it's simple biological fact.

      Secondly, while gender identity TENDS toward a basic two that TEND to correspond to biological sex, that's not always the case and gender identity and biological sex are in fact two different things. You don't have to believe me -- you can ask the numerous cultures, past and present, which accepted more than two gender identities as normal.

      None of that affects anyone's rights, of course. But when Kent tried to get scientific fact (which doesn't budge and which he got wrong) into his corner vis a vis cultural norms, he fucked up. He doesn't do that very often. It's worth remarking upon when he does, just as I expect he will let me know when he catches me doing so.

    4. You seem to jump all over the place on biology and gender identity, depending upon what you are trying to prove. You speak here about biological sex as if it is not a settled thing, and in the very next paragraph, seem to say that it IS a settled thing, and is different from gender identity. I myself believe that biologically speaking, the case is pretty clear, that there are two sexes only, based upon a normal biological reading of chromosomes, and also usually physical traits. I also believe that there are gender identity issues that are involved, that also determine how a person sees themselves sexually. And these are completely valid and acceptable. It is not a simple issue, in any case, and I don't mean to appear argumentative, but I hope you see my point. Either biological sex is simple, or it is not, but from this post, you seem to change your point of view from the first paragraph to the second. And while I don't know you, I suspect that from a reading of your posts, you are much better educated than I on this specific issue, and probably on most. On another note, it does seem to me that many with an agenda are trying to force gender identity and biological identity either together or completely eliminate them altogether. And I don't think that is intellectually honest either. There should be room for honest debate and real, scientific study, not simply anecdotal stories that people with agendas on both sides use to prove their argument, which is often based on one sides ignorance, and the other sides confrontational nature. In any case, I hope you don't mind debating with me, as I am always willing to learn and also will change my mind if proven to be wrong. I only wish to never be so set in my ways that I am content to be inaccurate in order to be right. Be well.

    5. I don't think that saying biological sex is different from gender identity is the same as saying that biological sex is a "settled thing."

      We're still learning about both. The "XX/XY" relationship to biological sex was a discovery by CE McClung circa 1902 and it is the norm. But it turns out there are variations, and it's not necessarily obvious that those variations are "defects" just because they are rare, or that other genes are not also implicated in biological sex.

      "Gender identity" does seem, FOR THE MOST PART, to fall into two categories that track closely to biological sex, but that is not true in all cultures, or at all times, or universally. And some studies are indicating biological factors in gender identity. For example, it seems that many biological males who identify in female cultural terms gender-wise were exposed to higher/lower levels of estrogen/testosterone in the womb.

      But as far as gender identity and the behaviors associated with it being something universally biologically determined, consider this:

      In the early 18th century, if you wore high heels, petticoats, pancake makeup and a wig, you were probably a biological male acting out a male gender role specific to the upper classes of British society of that time.

      So when Kent tries to tie gender identity to a simplified explanation of biological sex, I'm going to say that Kent either hasn't bothered to look into the matter, or is believing what he's believing because he's comfortable believing it rather than because it's some kind of objective fact. Yelling SCIENCE! doesn't make it science.

      If I seem to have a personal interest in this, well, I do. A couple of years ago, my oldest son (who had been mistaken for a girl all his life) made it clear that she was actually my youngest daughter. I am actually as skeptical as you are of some of this, but after affirming to her that I loved her however she presented herself, I also started digging into the subject.

      My personal opinion on what's going on in American culture today is that we have a lot of confused youngsters who are trying to "find themselves" and that not nearly all of it is biologically motivated. We're undergoing some kind of cultural shift, and those are never comfortable. My choice is to let them do their thing and respect their attempts to do so, right up until the point where they start making demands that everyone think and act "correctly" toward them. I've explained to my daughter that no, people do not have to "respect her pronouns." All they have to do is refrain from forcing her to use their preferred ones, etc.

      I think we're mostly in agreement on all this. My only point with Kent is that no, it's not as simple as he decided it was. I wouldn't dream of trying to force him to adopt my perspective on it, but I'll be glad to argue that perspective all day long.

  2. "XY chromosomes or XX chromosomes doesn't depend on culture or roles."


    And gender identity depends on neither.

  3. Or, rather, gender identity doesn't depend on XY or XX chromosomes (or any of the other chromosomal pairings and trisomies determining biological sex).