This is a response to a to-ing and fro-ing on Medium.com where a trans ally has been suggesting I’m a big meanie for saying that Aimee Challenor is a man. The discourse moved on from petty insults and he asked me a bunch of questions which I believe clarify my thinking on a number of areas. So, here are they and the answers.
Do you think gender and sex are the same thing?
No I don’t. Sex is based upon reproductive class, whether you’re a human being or a rabbit, sex in mammals is bifurcated into males (producers of small gametes) who fertilise the large gametes produced by females. Aside from the exception found in monotremes, the female gestates the young. All human beings that have ever lived have been conceived from an egg produced by a female-bodied person that was fertilised by sperm from a male-bodied person. Thus sex is based upon reproductive class.
Gender is open to definition and there are several definitions floating around. I would like to differentiate it from sex.
It may be taken to mean traits or behaviours culturally interpreted as being stereotypically associated with males or females, for example clothing, hairstyles or use of makeup.
An effect of gender, as stereotypes, can be taken to be the creation of hierarchy whereby the positive dominant stereotypes are reserved for males and the negative submissive stereotypes are reserved for females. This is the feminist argument whereby females have their reproductive class instrumentalised against them, to the benefit of the male reproductive class. A side effect of this hierarchy is that females who are seen as masculine (gender traits associated with males) or males as feminine (gender traits associated with females) are seen as inferior, because they do not comply with societal stereotypes: this is why we get homophobia.
This, gender is often described as being ‘socially constructed’: what this means is that without human society, there would be no such thing as gender. Reproductive sex class, however, would still exist.
Another interpretation of ‘gender’ is what Serano calls the ‘subconscious sex’, a ‘feeling’ of being either male or female. This is what many now refer to as ‘gender identity’, this innate feeling of one’s own sex. It is very different from what Stoller came up with as a definition in the 1960s (Stoller, R J. 1964 “A Contribution to the Study of Gender Identity” Journal of Psychoanalysis 220–226) which was clearly and importantly based upon one’s own relationship with one’s sexed body and also the socialisation consequences of this. He also added in some ‘woo’ (‘an unknown biological vector’) which appears to be unnecessary (as he defined ‘gender identity’ as a consequence rather than a cause) and appears unscientific given its context.
I find the whole idea of an innate feeling of being male or female unconvincing: this would require a priori knowledge of such biological state, there is no real scientific evidence of such knowledge and philosophically it doesn’t hold water, see for example Wittgenstein’s ‘Beetle in a Box’ or Nagel’s essay ‘What is it like to be a Bat?’
Furthermore, there are other less exotic suggestions of causes of trans identity than speculative neurological fancy, certainly the material evidence of the former vastly outweighs the latter.
What defines a “biological state?” If being a woman is a biological state, then what other largely culturally- and biologically-informed states count? Is being Scottish a biological state?
Taking woman and man as being respectively adult human female and adult human male, this biological state is reproductive class and is a real thing with material consequences. Being ‘Scottish’ could of course have some biological meaning in the terms of ethnicity or genetic patterns associated with defendants from that geographic area, however having visited Scotland myself many times I can assure you that within that country, human beings are sexually dimorphism based upon reproductive class thus may be categorised as female or male as explained above: Scottish women just like women everywhere else on the planet are members of the female reproductive class.
How do you decide where to file intersex people?
Intersex people can in almost all cases be categorised according to one reproductive class or the other. We do not have a third gamete, aside from sperm or ova, thus human beings have only two reproductive classes: female and male.
I’ve noticed that you call yourself “transsexual” (and that’s fine, you can call yourself whatever; doesn’t harm me) but rail against transgender people. What do you see as the line between you and them?
I think when asked most people would take ‘transsexual’ as being someone who has undertaken a medical/surgical transition. ‘Transgender’ is drawn extremely wide and includes many different types of ‘trans identity’. The breadth of this definition makes the concept rather meaningless, as for example a man who occasionally cross-dresses can now claim to be a ‘transgender woman’ and thus are claiming a form of womanhood for themselves.
We used to refer to these men as ‘transvestites’ but now, even though they may have married and fathered children, we are expected to treat them as being some form of woman. I wrote about this claim to be women that such men are making here.
I think you’re fundamentally misunderstanding me by suggesting I ‘rail against transgender people’. On the contrary I have always argued it is in everyone’s interests to recognise and accept the differences that exist between ‘trans men’ and men, and ‘trans women’ and women, both for the individual (as reality-based self-acceptance) and to allow us to work out rights conflicts and a way through the seemingly unrelenting negativity and hostility that surrounds the trans debate.
My problem is with transgender ideology and what it does to people, namely it presents them with a superficial ideological base that leaves behind any consideration of material reality. Even worse, this same transgender ideology is being used to properly oppress half the human population, girls and women, who can’t now use words to describe the material reality of having a female reproductive system. This is fucked up beyond belief, and we should all be thankful this batshit-crazy ideology has a finite shelf-life and has trundled well past its ‘best before’ date. It didn’t have to be like this, these problems arise because the entire movement is based upon a lie. Here’s how to fix transgender ideology.