We Need to Talk About the Transgender Movement | Belinda Brown

CW: There are sensitive issues raised in this article.

The past year has seen some major political convulsions as those who had been afraid to express their thoughts and feelings found a lightning rod for their political voice. We need to learn from this. Thoughts and feelings shape reality. Ignoring or burying feelings will not change them. Nor will it make them go away.

This is why we need to talk about the transgender movement and the way in which categories of male and female are being eroded. I suspect that there are many who feel deeply uncomfortable about this. The fall out of conceptually messing with the building blocks of all life could be far more destructive than anything we know.

By the time I was a student the term ‘gender’ had become embedded. It propagated the idea that sex differences were entirely culturally constructed. We shut our eyes to the 100% overlap between biological sex, gender identity and gender expression and accepted the idea of cultural construction without demur.

Today universities tell us that individuals should choose their pronouns. Objective reality is treated like an uninvited visitor and it is these chosen pronouns which must be obeyed. In certain instances, boys’ toilets in schools now contain sanitary bins and a male can enter many a female inner sanctum as long as he doesn’t ‘identify’ as a man. Even the British Medical Association now encourages doctors to refer to ‘pregnant parents’. The slope turned out not just to be slippery but also hideously steep.

So we need to talk about what is happening because we have no idea what could be at stake.

How has the transgender lobby been able to impose so many so many deep seated far reaching rules? We are taught that a group of people is oppressed and suffering, and because our bodies are so damnably male and female their suffering is largely our fault. And because the victims constitute the ultimate minority – the number of perpetrators in infinitely large. Therefore, it would be incredibly churlish not to make these compromises. Emotional blackmail is the hidden game.

There are a few assumptions here that we need to unpick. Firstly, if our behaviour is kind, considerate and respectful should we take responsibility for the suffering of someone else? Gabriel Rutherford tells us that transgender students suffer depression and this is the result of their oppression ‘by cultural means’. However how does Gabriel Rutherford know the cause of their depression? Even depressed people don’t know exactly why they are depressed. If you are suffering with issues of sexual identity, personal relationships will be far more challenging. To understand the transgender person’s issues,  this might be a more robust place to start.

The other question I would like to ask is the extent to which strangers can be held responsible for our self-esteem. As a young woman I experienced the full gamut of sexual harassment which apparently sends my feminist sisters into safe little corners. Yet my self-esteem and self-identity remained alarmingly in-tact. It is not possible to eradicate harassment or bullying for they can morph grotesquely. Perhaps instead it is resilience that we should teach.

For Rutherford going along with the transgender emperor is “Standing against oppression and bullying”. Really? If someone looks, sounds and acts like a girl but we have to pretend they are otherwise, then we are being made to lie. Lying does not require bravery. People lie out of self-interest or because it is the easier route. University authorities which insist that we do this are colluding in deception.  If an unambiguous male says he is transgender but we call him a ‘he’ we will have the weight of  the university authorities and quite probably public opinion against us. Just try it and see which is easier – lying or telling the truth.

The biggest humbug in the transgender argument is that it turns a blind eye to the costs that are involved. Identity provides us with a structure. Once we have established it we can go exploring. It lies at the foundation of everything else. While a tiny minority of children and an even tinier minority of adults may not feel at home with the sex of their body we should not deny what is of fundamental importance to everyone else.

Sex differences are essential to biology and medicine. And I believe if we paid more attention to sex differences, rather than ignoring them, some of the basic differences between men and women, for example mental rotation, could, more easily be overcome.

Finally, I would like to question whether encouraging a non-binary identity does any favour to the individual male or female. For many children, gender confusion is a condition which resolves. And for those who go so far as to opt for surgery the outcomes are surprisingly poor. And for those who insist on invented  pronouns I can hardly believe that their employment opportunities are likely to be enhanced.

Transgender is an outcome of gender dysphoria where a person’s gender identity does not match their sex. However, this needs to be understood in a context where gender identity has become increasingly narrowly defined. It appears that as gender roles have become more homogenous our identities and bodies have become the site where sex difference is expressed. Contrast the soft, sometimes effete body of the 1950’s male with the muscular physique expected in our ideal man of today. Or the not so rare caricature of a female with implants in her buttocks and her breasts. There is even empirical evidence to suggest that our personalities have become increasingly differentiated by sex.

So when transgender individuals want to reject our gender identities actually they have a very good point. However, could not these individuals rather than rejecting the categories which are so invaluable and essential to us, simply adopt them, expand them, be creative and even change them. But please also make them your own.

Belinda Brown is a writer for The Conservative Woman

Photo Credit: Elliot Owen
We Need to Talk About the Transgender Movement | Belinda Brown We Need to Talk About the Transgender Movement | Belinda Brown Reviewed by Student Voices on 14:30 Rating: 5


  1. Jung says what is not allowed to come into the consciousness ie repressed to fit cultural norms, family rules etc will eventually appear externally and force our minds to deal with it. Eg Trump. (repression of male energy, male risky stupidity etc) And as u say male & female bodies now being over exaggerated by plastic surgery, gym or drug/supplements. To display polarity of the genders.

  2. Thanks. I want to try to develop this idea so might look at Jung when I do so.

  3. Tail wagging the dog is a bad idea. Accepting all persons is fine in principle, but to condemn the majority and champion the minority is going to lead to problems eventually.

  4. Hey where are all the social justice, no platforming, snowflakes I imagine I am arguing against?!

  5. "could not these individuals rather than rejecting the categories which are so invaluable and essential to us, simply adopt them, expand them, be creative and even change them"

    Some of them do. You just aren't paying attention. All of them are in the process of discovering their identities in a way so profound that the you would never believe. That you could never understand

    Yet we must fear the transgender people! Fear them so much! With no political power, no MPs of their own, no CEOs, no actual lobbies with any resources to financially influence the political sphere (which is kinda the definition of what lobbyists do), given only limited legal rights, with discrimination and prejudice rampant against them, with actual state-wide bodies (such as the General Medical Council, the Government and the NHS) acknowledging - admitting in print - the systemic levels of discrimination against them...

    Yet somehow they have the power to change the world. Even though they are at least 10x more likely to commit suicide because of this, even though they are about 40x more likely to be murdered than cis people, even though they sit well below the median in terms of opportunities and earning, somehow they have all the power to change all the things. Even though they are subject to attack, ridicule and erasure on a continual basis.

    (That was sarcasm, by the way.)

    Also, your research is utterly fucking flawed. 88% desist? That only chestnut? Look to the analysis of it, look at the researchers themselves disagreeing with the uses made of their work (such as your own incorrect usage) and you will see that it was fundamentally flawed. Gender Dysphoria isn't the same as gender questioning

    "Even the British Medical Association now encourages doctors to refer to ‘pregnant parents’"

    This actually had very little to do with trans people. It was raised because not all families are a nuclear family. There's something called SAME SEX relationships. You might have heard of them. Some of these people adopt, some of them have issues with the way organisations insist on male-female when some are female-female or even male-male. And then you have the newest development - three person parents. And yes, some trans guys also have babies.

    Your stupidity is surpassed only by your failure to do your damn research: to do your due diligence and ensure that you aren't just repeating polemics and innuendo, but that you examine the situation with a critical eye, look at all the perspectives and make use of a questioning approach to the assumed norms of 'Objective Reality'.

    1. I am very happy for people to discover their identities. However if I see someone who looks acts and sounds like a woman, and that person has a vagina that person is a woman and to say otherwise is to say something which isn't true. If you are a bloke and want to wear dresses that is fine by me - but you are still a bloke.
      Only women can get pregnant and when pregnant they are usually called expectant mothers - even if they are in a same sex relationship.
      Here are the articles I refer to:
      There is an objective reality.

    2. By quoting a reference made by the faux academic group American College of Pediatrics (which is a hate group mostly made up from a very small group of ultra right wing Catholics) you do your argument absolutely no favours whatsoever Belinda.
      The second study which you quoted is not very satisfactory, even the author expresses doubts about its validity - whereas more recent studies have shown that only around 2% of people regret transitioning (and this was mainly due to society's hostility towards trans people - something that this article helps to perpetuate.

    3. I see that they are a specifically socially conservative group which I hadn't realised. However the fact that they have non-mainstream views doesn't make them wrong as long as they can back their views up with hard facts. It could be that social changes mean few people regret transitioning - I am not an expert and it is a subject which needs to be explored further. I did however see an article which suggested that those who regretted transitioning were silenced. I shall try to find it.
      I do think there is a real risk that by offering children a lot of special attention when they appear to have a gender identity 'problem' children could be encouraged down a path which they would be much better off not going down. I would love it if we could just be more flexible about what it means to be a woman or man.

    4. There are quite a few articles on transgender regret but I realise that we could fling articles at each other each to prove our case without proving anything.
      I do realise sometimes it can be a good thing - Jan Morris or Blaire White are well known people who spring to mind. However it is such an incredibly dreadful thing to do to one's body that those of us who are skeptical and who would push for higher hurdles - are not doing harm. And I do believe that the denial of the sex binary does have potentially very damaging implications for the population at large in terms of identity development, science and relationships. Basically we only look at the benefits to the minority we never explore whether there could be wider social costs and we need to.

  6. Desister myth dealt with here https://gidreform.wordpress.com/2016/07/26/media-misinformation-about-trans-youth-the-persistent-80-desistance-myth/

    Gender and sex have been conflated in this piece.

    "when transgender individuals want to reject our gender identities"

    An unsubstantiated assertion, which is also mostly not true.

    "simply adopt them, expand them, be creative and even change them"

    This is pretty much what trans people do, as you would know if you had done the simplest piece of research. However, they still need to use public toilets.

    "I would like to question whether encouraging a non-binary identity does any favour to the individual male or female."

    Hold on. Didn't you just suggest that trans people be creative? Now you question whether it is a good idea?

    "There is even empirical evidence to suggest that our personalities have become increasingly differentiated by sex."

    Odd that you don't cite your sources for this remarkable claim.

    Tbh, this is an opinion piece by someone who both lacks the ability of critical thinking, lacks the rigour to include citations for some remarkable assertions and lacks the interest to do very basic research into trans issues.

    If the opinion had a purpose, I am afraid it eludes me, at least beyond the now standard "I don't know about trans issues, but I don't like them and this is how I will justify my antipathy."

    The rational course is to accept that trans exists (it has existed for millennia) and to get on with your life, wholly unaffected it. This is what most people do.

    1. oh come on! Next you'll be asking people to be respectful and courteous to other people.

      *shakes head*

      That shit will lead to the utter disintegration of pointless hatred! We can't have that!

      Don't you understand that trans people cause hurricanes? Floods? Earthquakes? Are killing God?

      The transgender lobby is terrifying. Totally able to change the whole concept of gender yet at the same time weirdly unable to have the same level of legal protection that cis people do!

      She is frightened. The poor soul. Terrified by these nonbinary peoplz undermining the concept of man and woman. Don't you understand that only men and women are supposed to do that????

    2. I am very happy for people to be creative about their sexual identity. But we are all male or female and just because you are a man who wears a dress or a woman who looks like a bloke that doesn't stop you being a man or a woman. That would leave definitions of male and female even more narrow than they already are. If you have a non-binary identity please at least acknowledge that you are a male or a female.

      Here is the article on which I based my assertion:
      Why do transgender people have to have special toilets? If you look like a woman use the woman's loo and if you look like a man use the man's loo.

    3. I don't see why that article challenges what I have said about gender confusion in children being a condition which resolves - I haven't said gender dysphoria resolves or GIDC resolves - but the article itself seems to suggest that where children have some kind of gender confusion this does resolve.
      The following article does suggest that gender dysphoria in children does also resolve and it seems to be from a pretty authoritative source.http://www.acpeds.org/the-college-speaks/position-statements/gender-ideology-harms-children

    4. Seriously? If you mix in children experiencing gender dysphoria, with children questioning gender roles, then OF COURSE MANY OF THEM WILL NOT BE TRANSGENDER.

      Since there are so few transgender people in comparison to the general populace, it should be completely unsurprising that most of the children didn't turn out to be trans. To say that 88% of children desisted when the study doesn't distinguish between these categorise is... just really poor research.

      This is basic. Really basic. Did you even go to university? Because this is well below the standard I expect from my first year undergrad students.

      If you conflate two different groups into one, and then use that argument to argue against one group, then you have made a totally rookie mistake.


      Your clear and present hatred of trans identities that don't conform to your 18th Century understanding of gender and sex is... really quite troubling.

    5. Warning long post

      Page 1 of 3

      "am very happy for people to be creative about their sexual identity."

      You are still conflating sex and gender. Gender dysphoria is about gender identity, not sexual identity. Until you can get past this, then entreaties like "If you have a non-binary identity please at least acknowledge that you are a male or a female" will fail.

      ACPED is a socially conservative advocacy group and one might expect it have a bias towards "traditional" values as defined by conservatives. It also promotes heterosexual marriage as being "foundational" to healthy child rearing. In doing so, it ignores the evidence that same sex marriages do just as good a job (acc to American Academy of Pediatrics).

      On your link:

      1) It conflates sexuality with biological sex. Sexuality is not defined by XX/XY chromosomes. Also, there are several biological to define sex: chromosomes, hormones, internal sexual organs, external sexual organs, phenotype (ie secondary traits such size, heavy boneset, etc). In most people, all the ducks line up. In many people, they don't, so a person XY chromosones can develop as female or a person with a vagina might also have an Adam's apple. It is important to keep in mind that not every one adheres to the stereotype.

      2) It is correct to say that no one is born with a gender, but it ignores the social conditioning that is imposed upon the baby (what a pretty girl or what a big strong boy). Some behaviour is innate, but much is not (such as pink for girls, blue for boys...it used to be the other way around). In many other cultures, gender is use descriptively, such as strong or blonde. And it can change. There can also be more than two genders...the Chukchi, for instance, are recorded as having seven. When it says: "may be derailed by a child’s subjective perceptions, relationships, and adverse experiences from infancy forward", it is asserting that there is socially a right way and a wrong way to develop. The fact that homosexuality has been observed in over 1,500 suggests otherwise.

      3) The truth is that we don't know what causes GD, so the claim that it is confused thinking cannot be substantiated. We do know that the only treatment that seems to alleviate it is surgery. It is increasingly recognised that treatments like Reparative Therapy do not work. This is why Zucker was sacked from CAMH and this is why organisations like BACP are banning it.

      4) One of the problems in our society is the conflation of gender and biological sex. We see a biological woman and immediately we assume things about her...her sexual orientation, her love of pretty things, sewing, and so on. There are even finishing schools which teached girls how to behave as girls. A biological man who loves pretty things and acts in a stereotypical way is reviled. "Nature loves variety, Society hates it" (Dr Milton Diamond). Society pressures people to conform and while it does, the biological man with "feminine" behaviour will search for ways to be accepted.

      5) First, it should be pointed out that the article has gone for the sensational. It could be rewritten to say as few as 70% or 50%, as footnote to the article admits. However, it ignores that trans people are the one who do persist. It then goes on to say "after naturally passing through puberty". In fact, desisters desist at all stages of development. It is trans people who persist. This para is mendacious in its deliberate misrepresentation.

    6. Page 2 of 3

      6) Cross sex hormones are not administered until age 16, when the young person has greater ability to consent (Gillick principle). The effect of cross sex hormones is largely reversible. From personal experience, I can say that hormones did not sterilise me. At age 18, the young person has full legal capacity make their own decisions, under medical advice. By choosing to print the paragraph in bold type, ACPED seeks to emphasise the point. But actually, while there are increased risks, they are not great. And they have to be view in conjunction with the perceived risks of withholding treatment. Between 30% and 50% of trans people will attempt suicide.

      7) Again, ACPED repeats the mendacious 88% and 98% figures. ACPED tries to convey the impression that it is the treatment that gives rise to mental health issues. Actually, the main reason seems to be rejection. Rejection by the family, by the church, by society at large. If we are concerned about this issue, then we need to look at the real causes.

      8) And finally we get to the point that ACPED is trying to justify, so let me clear up some the main points. Treatment of young trans people is driven the child, under the supervision of medical specialists, with the agreement of parents. No one is pushing it on the child. No treatment at all is offered to children prior to the onset of puberty...no blockers, no hormones, no surgery. Blockers may be offered at puberty - the effects of this are reversible. This puts on hold physical changes that are irreversible. This gives the young person time to decide. Hormones and surgery are not offered at puberty. Cross sex hormones are offered at 16. No surgery is offered at 16. Surgery is not offered to the young person until 18, by which time they can join the army, drive car, drink, marry, vote and do all the other things that adults do. The Standards of Care given by WPATH are intended to ensure that decision are not made impulsively. Almost no other procedure attracts the same rigour. As a result, of those trans people that undergo surgery, there is a 97% post surgical satisfaction rate. This is far, far higher than satisfaction rates for other surgical procedures such as gastric bands or hip replacements.

      Trans issues are controversial and it is hard to find evidence that is impartial. However, social conservatives have historically argued against the abolition of slavery, giving women the vote, giving black the vote and legalising homosexuality. Trans issues are just the latest in a long line of things to object about. The objections offered for all those remain pretty consistent, too, but seem ultimately to boil down to "We don't like, so we will ban it". All kinds of spurious evidence and claims will be offered to justify the prejudice. Like bathroom bills which are ostensibly for the protection of women. Except, there is no evidence that trans using bathrooms is a risk. For anyone. Children would be more at risk from priests and republican politicians. Like the desister myth.

      Ultimately, the arguments against trans seem to be founded in politics or religion, in my view.

      If society wants to help trans people, accept them for who they are. But we live in a society that seems to thrive on prejudice and false fears. Women are still treated as second class to men on pay scales, black people are still being attacked because they are black, same for gays, same for trans. It is not the minority groups that are the problem. It is the intolerant social right that is the problem.

      All these minority groups just want to get on and live their lives in equality without people stepping in and messing them up. I don't understand what the social right finds difficult about that. It must be exhausting to spend all that energy on hate and not get anything positive back.

    7. Page 3 of 3

      Final point...the 80% desistence percentage is frequently advance as justification for not making a care pathway available. The link I provided was a rebuttal of that argument. The care pathway is designed to make desistence easy, to try to ensure that medical intervention is not offered inappropriately. I see it as a good thing that desisters are identified before irreversible treatment...it demonstrates that approach is working.

    8. I have a book here (I haven't read I admit) called "NO Differences? How children in same-sex households fare" published by the Witherspoon Institute and it seems to suggest that a lot of the research into the question of children of same sex couples is biased and inadequate.

      If you start breaking down sex into lots of parts you could start breaking humans and animals into lots of parts - e.g. this human doesn't speak so maybe they aren't really human - for example. A caricature but a valid point. A female has a vagina, a male has a penis and the inbetweeners are exceptions. Things may not line up which is why we should be compassionate and tolerant of people if they want to go around as a woman or have a sex change or whatever. But if you look and sound like an unambiguous man I am going to be lying if I say that you are a woman and I am uncomfortable about that.
      2) I am not sure about the homosexuality comment. I don't have a problem with homosexuality. I do by the way think there isn't sufficient attention given to the amount of sex difference which is innate - there are always exceptions but there are a lot of innate differences rooted in biology and I wish it wouldn't be a crime to say so.
      4)I actually think society has become more narrow like this - look at lego advertisements from the 1950s - it's a real eye opener - almost indistinguishable girls and boys playing together with the same toys. I do honestly believe we have become more sexually specific and I also think that the transgender lobby is going to encourage that. What will happen is that those of us who don't want anyone to mistake us for the opposite sex (and I was once mistaken for a boy) are going to be dressing up even more to make sure this doesn't happen. I see less attractive girls(??) and I am not sure if they are girls or boys - now imagine how they would feel if they are a girl and they knew that someone wasn't sure if they were a girl?- they would feel terrible - and that is what transgender has done. We need to teach people not to revile people who don't behave according to some stereotype. That is about teaching and expecting people to be decent human beings. Now if a boy likes pretty things we are going start wondering if they aren't really a boy? How horrible is that for the little boy?
      5) hmmm maybe. But I don't really understand the rest of what you are saying. I have only learnt this word 'desist' through the comments here.
      6) and 7) maybe.

    9. )I do honestly believe there are enough pressures out there for a tomboy girl to start wondering if she is really a girl or transgender and I think that is likely to be way more confusing for the majority of girls who just enjoy being rebellious tomboys. I really do worry about boys and girls at the edges finding themselves in new categories and male and female becoming more and more narrowly defined. This is a big bugbear for me.
      By the way women are not treated as second class citizens on the pay scales. They earn slightly more than men up the age of 35. Men earn more after 40 because they work longer hours and in more continuous employment. If you look at take home pay after tax there is no difference in male and female pay. Also the biggest 'pay gap' affects the most privileged women with the loudest voices. If you look lower in the pay scaled you will find women are often paid more than men. Take a look at this even ONS admits pay doesn't compare like for like http://visual.ons.gov.uk/find-out-the-gender-pay-gap-for-your-job/
      sorry to deviate there - you got me on another fave topic.
      Do you know we all have harsh lives in different ways. Life can be really rough on everybody even if we are white and straight etc etc. I don't think we should make sweeping social changes like male and female to accommodate the pain suffered by a tiny minority. I do not ask anybody to accommodate my pains.I don't hate trans people at all. But last time I met one I did really want to say to him 'look you really look like a man to me and I relate to you as a man and I hope that is okay' - but he was wearing some feminine clothes and maybe he would have wanted me to call him a woman which I would have found really confusing and dishonest. I didn't spend long with him but if I had worked with him I would have loved to have been honest about how I felt - although i admit I don't know if I would have been brave enough. I could have been hauled up in front of the authorities if I had.
      Also I see from reading that there is a huge amount of care taken to ensure that people don't go down the wrong path and that is good to see.

      I got my own back on you by writing a long post. Still doesn't mean I don't like trans people.

  7. I'm straight, cis and pretty secure in both. I am not in the least bothered about how a trans person chooses to live; which toilet they use or how their parents chose to support their non-binary status. I find it very easy to use the pronoun (all pronouns are made up by the way) a person asks me to and I am not in the least bit affronted by the societal evolution of acknowledging trans rights just as we evolved to deal with equal rights for women, gays, people of colour.
    I am hugely bothered by lipstick neanderthals and semi-educated TERFS who think they have any right at all to comment on what it is to be trans; what trans people need or how to approach raising a trans child.
    There have been trans people and communities for as far back as we can accurately read or guess about society. They're just another normal part of the huge variety of beings that make up humanity and all oppression of minorities is wrong.
    Oh and snowflakes ... unique, beautiful and - given enough of them - they're crush the hot air right out of you.

    1. People can do what they like in their private lives and if men want to dress as women they should certainly be treated respectfully by all those around them. I am strongly against bullying of any kind. But society and how we all live shouldn't have to change for a tiny minority - it could be damaging for a great many people. For example growing up a boy or a girl and having clear roles to step into I am sure is very helpful for the vast majority of children. There is a tiny minority for whom it may be confusing but we shouldn't have to confuse everybody to benefit that one person. When you say about transgender always existing I guess you mean Berdache or Hijras - but the whole society doesn't have to start denying the male of female binary in order to accommodate them. Yes snowflakes can crush the hot air right out of you so why should they have special conditions as if they are so weak and feeble? I totally agree that oppression of minorities is wrong. So is they tyranny of minorities.

    2. Was it the tyranny of minorities to create toilets for the disabled; to demand female toilets in male dominated industrial settings; to legislate for diabetics in council housing to have proper bathrooms or to set aside appropriate places of worship for minority religions? No, it was reasonable behaviour in acknowledgement of the obvious fact that expecting all to be treated the same is to treat some unequally.
      As for binarism, it does not actually exist in animals (human or otherwise) which are best assessed using various spectra. Binary is for machines.

    3. By the way as for pronouns there is a really good article here:

    4. Ah, Daniel Moody. Yes I have seen his writings before.

      I confess that I find him difficult to read, partly because a goodly number of his assertions are either not true, unsubstantiated, not shared by others and basically just his personal opinion. As far as I can determine, he is not a recognised authority on anything, which heightens his need to substantiate and support what he asserts. He, too, seems to be a social conservative.

      I will quickly just give two examples of why he doesn't influence me, too much.

      "so-called preferred pronouns"

      There is nothing so-called about them. They exist. This looks like attempt to use linguistics to undermine, in the mind of the reader, the validity of the expression.

      "We use he/him/his for a male, she/her/hers for a female, and they/them/theirs to refer to more than one person."

      He later admits that using "they" to represent a singular person is already perfectly acceptable in English. The mechanism already exists, even if it used for a slightly different purpose.

      He also tacitly ignores that language evolves. One example of this was when "thee" (2nd person singular) was dropped in favour of "you" (at the time, only used in 2nd person plural). The precedent for change exists.

      So, rather than me analyse the whole piece, perhaps you could identify which parts of the opinion piece speak to you (or to thee) in particular.

    5. Oh gosh that is mean of you. I suppose I will have to go and read it again.

    6. Do we have to be recognised authorities in order to engage with arguments if we try to substantiate them? I think that is elitist.
      Anyway I have found the bits which make sense to me but rather than putting you through them this is what I take away.
      Language needs to refer to concrete things (or concepts) which everybody agrees upon otherwise we have a tiny minority of people who tell us what we should say. Language refers to actual things or concepts that we recognise and if it hasn't evolved democratically it amounts to a very small number of people trying tell a large number of people not only what to say but what to think. That is very dodgy.

    7. No, of course we don't have to be recognised authorities to join in the debate. I am sorry if I gave that impression. But, as I said, it does heighten the need to support and substantiate assertions. And an uninformed or badly informed opinion is not always (but sometimes it can be, depending on the point being made) as valid as an informed one. On trans issues, it seems to me that I spend a lot of time correcting false assumptions or beliefs, which I am happy to do. Addressing differences founded on religion, politics or culture is a different issue and is often one that cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of both sides.

      I don't think we have ever been in a place where everyone agrees about definitions. Historically, this has led to all sorts of misunderstandings. And I think that a minority is entitled to say to the majority: look,this is us and our understanding of us and these are the words for us.

      I don't really see it as any different from black excising the n-word from polite language.

      And in the context of trans, the tiny minority still amounts to several (hundreds of) thousands of people, the majority of whom are probably better acquainted with their situation than is the average member of the majority. And, to be honest, a very large part of those who do not belong to the minority, (a large part of the majority, if you will) don't have any issues with the terminology in principle.

      I remember that the black community encountered a lot of resistance to changing the terminology. They argued, correctly in my view, that the n-word was almost always used as a term of abuse and that it perpetuated lack of respect,hate and bigotry. I would suggest that the same could be argued about the use of language about trans people.

      Ultimately, for any minority group, it is about respect and it is about equality of rights and about equality of treatment.

      (I have seen your other, longer posts, in response to my long post. I don't have time, right now, to look at them...we have a minor family crisis which means grandchildren will be around. I am not sure I will be able to get any more work done today. But I will come back to them. :) )

  8. I believe slugs and snails are non-binary or at least their binariness is combined in one body. Apart from that pretty much all animals are male or female otherwise they wouldn't be able to reproduce.
    There is a difference between respecting the needs of minorities and changing everything so that minorities don't feel like minorities. We don't have to disable ourselves to make sure disabled people don't feel like minorities, we don't have to all become single parents so that single parents won't feel stigmatized. But we have to deny male and female so that transgender people don't feel different. That is what I mean by tyranny of minorities.

    1. "We don't have to disable ourselves to make sure disabled people don't feel like minorities, "

      But we do have toilet facilities for the disable. We do try to make building disabled friendly.

      "But we have to deny male and female so that transgender people don't feel different"

      From everything that I see, this is simply not true, by and large, although it will always be possible to find ridiculous exceptions.

      How many examples of this tyranny can you offer which will affect you in any way?

    2. I will try to explain what I mean. There is relating to transgender quite a lot of discussion about chromosomes and being male and female ceases to be something straightforward and is broken down into lots of parts and at the moment it doesn't do harm. But male and female have lots of vital functions- an obvious one is medicine and biology where analysing things according to this binary is actually incredibly useful and valuable. I think it is possible that if we carry on on the current trajectory that could be eroded. I actually would like to see a world where we spent more time analysing the differences between male and female - I think it would help a lot in improving relationships between men and women and we would understand a lot of things better if we explored some of these things . (None of which means I don't totally appreciate that girls can be totally like boys and vice-a-versa and I like that). But when there is a move towards denying that male and female are real concrete things - it seems to be called the spectrum model - the chances of exploring these differences further are likely to be eroded.
      I suppose what I am talking about are unintended consequences.
      What I struggle with is not so much this idea that you have women who act as men (and there seem to have been women who fought in wars and fooled everybody and stuff like that which I find fascinating) and men who want to be women - but it is all the non-binary business which gets me. I just think these categories are the building blocks of so much. Tis late and I am rambling.

    3. For all that I think I see what you are trying to say, I can't see that you have shown how it affects you directly. How do transgender issues materially alter your life?

      I think many of the problems stems our cultural tendency to treat sex and gender as one and the same thing.

      As I think I have already mentioned, many other cultures see gender differently to us, and may have more than two genders. Some First Nation tribes, many parts of the Philipines, India, Maya, Aztec and Chuckchi are just some of those cultures. They tend to see and to accept gender as behavioural. If you have certain behaviours, then you are seen as a particular gender, irrespective of biological sex.

      And if you can have more than two genders, then you are in the world of non-binary.

      However, over half of the world population follows an Abrahamic religion, which tend to see gender differently (along with some other cultures). Within Abrahamic religions, gender is seen as dependent on biological sex. From the day that a baby is born, it is schooled into the culture’s expectations as to how that gender/sex should behave. We will say things like “Who is a pretty girl?” and “Who is a big strong boy?” Those kinds of expectations, along with hair length, job expectations, style of dress, the whole blue/pink thing, all these pervade our culture and instil standards of acceptable behaviour, rights and expectations based. In essence, we tell our children how to behave based solely on genitalia. And because it is so pervasive, many people think that is the natural order of things, but it isn’t. It is just the way of our culture. Other cultures are different.

      It is not about nature. It is about cultural choices. Historically, our culture did not send women into battle. In Norse history, women could choose to be warriors. Different cultures have different expectations and demands on gender issues. It is not a question of right or wrong in an absolute sense, but simply different.

      And even with the shift, here in the UK, away from religion, our culture still retains the practice of imposing gender from birth. Our culture has very strong expectations about how men and women separately should look, should behave, what they are allowed wear, what they are allowed to do, how they wear their hair, how they dress.

      And then there are transgender people. People whose behaviour does not match their imposed gender of birth. Before them came homosexual people. People whose sexual orientation did not match the imposed expectations enforced by our culture.

      The nub of it, really, is that our culture is inclined to reject anything that it does not regard as the natural order of things. It used to be the case that women couldn’t vote or own property. It used to be the case that people could be owned as slaves. It used to be case that black people were segregated and denied a vote. It used to be case that homosexuality was both an illness and illegal (think about that for a moment – an illegal illness). Changing all of these, and more, met with fierce opposition from social conservatives, yet here we all are and the sky hasn’t fallen in.

      Transgender is just the most recent social change. And it meets with fierce opposition from some quarters, mainly but not exclusively among social conservatives. It was ever thus.

    4. I don't think it is strictly true that say the Berdache or Hijras (the only two I have heard of but I admit) were regarded as women - they were regarded as a special category. So I guess I do have to admit to a non-binary.
      Yes an awful lot of male and female is culturally created - but it is helpful to have gender roles to step into. I am not a psychologist but these are building blocks of identity we need. For example for a child growing up in one place is a building block (I was a child who grew up in many different places so felt this lack). Sometimes I think transgender people are the price paid (perhaps wrong way to put it)or victims of this way of doing things. And I do also wonder about things like as cultural categories get narrower do we get more transgender people. I simply don't know.
      Natacha Kennedy has written a really interesting article on this site (which I will respond to in a bit) where she makes the distinction between a transgender people and a transgender movement - and argues you are a people. Well I think it has become a movement partly because it is politically extremely convenient for the lobby that wants to deny that there are sex differences . Anyway it is the political dimension I have a problem with.
      It is true what you say about what do women look like and particularly as we get older and lose our oestrogen it is much harder if we don't wear markers to see whether we are women or men. I have never been much one for make up but as I get older I really don't want to be mistaken for a bloke.

      You are saying why does it matter to anyone what sex they are. I think gender identity figures deeply and positively on the way we relate to each other. It is interesting when I was at uni this bloke who looked like a rather chubby female befriended and spent a lot of time with me. In my head i knew I related to him and spoke to him as a woman but I never had the guts to tell him. My sister told me this morning - I never knew - that he had been born intersex and made into a bloke was angry about this and always wanted to be a woman. So that might be why he spent time with me - at some level I treated him like a woman (whatever that means). So sexual identity is very very deep for the rest of us and transgender people I guess find some transcendant sort of way free from the limitations and boundaries experienced by the rest of us and that is great - but I want to preserve with all my might the categories of male and female. I love them.

      By the way I did study anthropology to degree level but I really don't remember any cultures which didn't make some sort of fairly clear distinction between male and female.

  9. You're referring to reproductive organs as if they are the only indication of male/female identity. That isn't anywhere near correct and, even if it were then the variations in size and efficiency of those organs would only support the spectrum model. You are not taking into account the huge variation in the hormonal makeup of apparent males and females which also supports the spectrum model. Nor are you acknowledging those who are born with such disparate genital and hormonal identities that they are labeled intergender, also supporting the spectrum model.
    Nobody has, as far as I am aware, asked that 'we' deny being male or female. In my understanding, the trans community is simply asking that 'we' stop telling 'them' who 'they' are.

    1. I am taking all those things into consideration but they don't make any difference to the way I see the world. If someone looks like a female they are a female - I assume they have a vagina. If they don't that is their secret I guess they have tricked me but that's fine. To have to deny that what I see as a female is a female does honestly become like the Orwell cliche where you have to say three fingers are four (although if at this point I saw a penis I would be prepared to accept he was in fact a man). And you are saying that what I think of as male and female isn't correct - you say it in the second line.

    2. "If someone looks like a female they are a female"

      What about the women who look like men? Again, we are into the sex versus gender debate. What does looking like a female actually mean? Can it be defined?

      Perhaps more importantly, why should it matter to anyone apart from the person themselves. And perhaps someone they might be interested in have sex with or breeding with.

      "And you are saying that what I think of as male and female isn't correct"

      Not quite. Inclusion said "You're referring to reproductive organs as if they are the only indication of male/female identity"

      Inclusion was saying that they thought you suggested male/female identity could only be determined by reference to reproductive organs. And went on to say that this was incorrect...and I agree with them. A eunuch is still a man. A woman without breasts or womb is still a woman.

      Male/female identity is a lot more complicated than simply reproductive organs.


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