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|         _______                 | I bet the human brain is a kludge. --     |
|     ,--'.:::::.`-._             | Marvin Minsky                             |
|    /..:::::::::::..\            |                                           |
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|   .    v        |:/   jeremy@   |                                           |
|    |   ___,     ||    malcolm   |                                           |
|     \   --    _/|     .id.au    |                                           |
|      \_____.-'__/-.__           |                                           |
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| "Transexuality" ::                                     [2017-09-16 04:23AM] |
|                                                              mood: Doubtful |
|                                                                 music: Muse |
|                                                                             |
| The mainstream transgender political program is that for all purposes,      |
| legal and social, except those that absolutely depend on the underlying     |
| biology of an XX or XY human being (such as xygote donation), a "man" is    |
| anyone who identifies himself as a man, and a "woman" is anyone who         |
| identifies herself as a woman.                                              |
|                                                                             |
| Needless to say this is not the same as the definition that doctors or      |
| even psychologists use, but that's deliberate, because to be transgender    |
| doesn't depend upon clinical diagnosis but self-identification. Thus it     |
| includes people who simply conceptualise gender differently, who don't      |
| identify particularly strongly with their assigned sex at birth, or who     |
| want to repudiate dominant gender stereotypes. These transgender people     |
| may identify as neither male nor female, or as both, or their               |
| identification may change over time.                                        |
|                                                                             |
| But does their inclusion in the transgender movement make it too inclusive  |
| for its own good? The problem with such an inclusive definition is that as  |
| the transgender movement has become mainstream, the inclusion of more and   |
| more people as transgender who don't experience gender dysphoria is         |
| undermining the political program of those who do, in that it appears to    |
| delegitimize their claim that they are simply transitioning towards their   |
| true gender identity that was misassigned at birth.                         |
|                                                                             |
| It plays into the argument of TERFs (trans-exclusionary radical feminists)  |
| that the gender identifications of trans people are a voluntary and         |
| malleable "choice" (which some genderqueer and genderfluid people           |
| cheerfully admit). If so, TERFs argue, in the case of male to female        |
| transexuals this choice is an act of violence to women, by allowing those   |
| born as men to claim female sexual identity merely as a matter of           |
| preference or convenience.                                                  |
|                                                                             |
| Now it's not that leaders in the transgender movement are unaware of this   |
| tension. But at least publicly, they downplay or sweep aside the            |
| distinction between transsexuals who wish to permanently transition from    |
| one sex to another (and do so successfully at high rates), from those for   |
| whom gender is fluid or nonbinary and who experience lesser feelings of     |
| sexual dysphoria (and who are more likely to change their gender identity   |
| over time).                                                                 |
|                                                                             |
| Part of the reason is that it's too difficult to present that kind of       |
| nuanced position to a broad public without undermining your own cause, by   |
| drawing attention to differences within the transgender movement that are   |
| hard to explain on a protest banner or in a tweet; for example about        |
| whether there is a biological basis for gender identity (many in the        |
| movement would say there isn't, but others who have been strongly           |
| dysphoric since childhood insist that there is, and the science supports    |
| them on that).                                                              |
|                                                                             |
| By sweeping away this distinction, and allowing that whatever reason you    |
| have for identifying as transgender is unquestionably valid, the moral      |
| force of transgender movement's cause is weakened. For example, it's        |
| important for their psychological health and dignity that transsexuals be   |
| allowed to use the bathroom that is appropriate to their gender rather      |
| than to their assigned sex at birth. But it's as not as important for       |
| people who are agender, bigender, or pangender to be able to switch         |
| bathrooms, and this inflames skepticism on the right about the movement as  |
| a whole.                                                                    |
|                                                                             |
| Another problem is that the transgender people who don't experience strong  |
| and persistent gender dysphoria may still come under pressure from those    |
| who are trying to be helpful, such as peers and healthcare professionals,   |
| to undergo sexual reassignment surgery. Such transgender young people are   |
| among those most likely to later detransition, with predictable tragic      |
| consequences. This is particularly the case for children who identify as    |
| transgender, a majority of whom later end up identifying as homosexual      |
| members of the sex they were assigned at birth.  Because this               |
| uncomfortable fact undermines the political program of the transgender      |
| movement as a whole, it is inclined to deny the phenomenon of               |
| detransitioning, and to stigmatize those who have detransitioned.           |
|                                                                             |
| Wouldn't it be better for the movement as a whole to be more honest about   |
| the fact that not everybody within the transgender movement has the same    |
| interests? That dysphoria has multiple causes and that not all of these     |
| require the same management? And, more controversially, just because a      |
| transgender person calls themself a "man" or a "woman", we shouldn't        |
| assume that they represent the interests of all transgender people who      |
| make that same identification?                                              |
|                                                                             |
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