• Philosophim
    2.3k
    I'm going to put two terms that are backed by the transgender community, at least the one's I've spoken with, below

    Gender - A societal construct which expects certain behavior from each sex.
    Sex - The biological difference between male and female.

    Gender relies on the stable nature of sex, but it also relies on the unstable nature of prejudice and sexism. For example, what makes a society? A "society" can range from the world, a country, a city, a family, and even an individual. Meaning what one person considers as a gender for one sex, can differ greatly from what another person thinks a gender is.

    Gender at best then, is a pre-judgement. It is an expectation that when one observes a biological sex, they will behave in a particular manner within a certain social group. At worst it is sexism, in which a person is inflexible in their expectations and demands that a sex act a particular way.

    What then does it mean to be transgender? For clear and consistent vocabulary, it simply means someone who crosses the gender expectations of their sex within a certain societal setting. I would say that allowing people to be cross gender is in an ideal sense, appropriate. It reduces stereotypes and allows more freedom, which I usually favor. It can be entirely free of prejudice or sexism.

    Does being transgender change your sex? No. Barring minor exceptions like extra chromosomes, sex is biologically defined most readily through genetics. Meaning no matter how one acts, dresses, or presents themselves, their biological sex is still defined by their genetic aspect. A social construct cannot change a biological fact.

    Can a transgender person validly claim they are trans sex? No. If I claim that I act, dress, or look a particular way, and this necessarily makes me the opposite sex, this would be prejudicial at best, sexist at worst. Sex is not a cultural construct. A cultural construct does not have the validity to imply that they should be treated as if they are sex of the gender they are expressing.

    So what does that mean for pronouns? Are pronouns identifiers of gender or sex? The traditional use of pronouns is to identify sex, not gender. "She wore a top hat, he wore a dress." The behavior or expression of the individual is irrelevant to the identification of their sex.

    A requirement that someone be called a pronoun that does not fit their sex because of an expressed gender stereotype is wrong. It is a requirement that gender take precedence over biology. A subjective construct cannot legitimately challenge objective biology. To do so would be sexist, noting that a subjective idea of one's actions make you a particular sex. Can people choose to use pronouns in a gendered way instead of biological way? If the parties agree to it, that is fine. But there should be no expectation or demand that a person use pronouns in a gendered way when their use has been implicitly biological.

    Should gender be the deciding factor in any decisions that are based on biology? Again, no. Sports for example is separate based on biological, not gender differences. Women's shelters or prisons are separate due to the fact that a man can physically force themselves on a woman and get them pregnant. Vice versa for women to men. There is nothing discriminatory in basing differences off of biology, and one's expressed gender does not change this.

    I am open to hearing other opinions, but this is currently the only consistent way I can look at the vocabulary for it to make logical sense.

    In sum:

    Gender and transgender or social constructs, or subjective.
    Sex is a fact, and objective.

    Objective considerations trump subjective considerations. The desire for subjective considerations to take precedence over objective considerations results in prejudice or sexism.
  • T Clark
    13k
    I'm going to put some vocabulary that is backed by the transgender community belowPhilosophim

    I don't have any trouble with what you've written, although I am confused by your claim that it is backed by the transgender community. The way the situation is usually presented is that the transgender community believes that transgender people who are biologically male should be legally and socially treated and named as women with the reverse being true for those who are biologically female. Is that not correct? Conflicts are reported between people who want transgender women to be able to compete against biological females in sports and those who don't. People have been fired because they refused to call biological males by female pronouns.
  • Joshs
    5.3k


    Gender and transgender or social constructs, or subjective.
    Sex is a fact, and objective
    Philosophim

    There are some who argue that gender is pulley a social
    construct, but I dont think you’ll find that to be a majority view within the gay community. My own view is that the biological and the social are inextricably, and for many who believe they were born with their particular gender already put in place, the idea that gender is strictly socially constructed is ludicrous.
  • Tom Storm
    8.5k
    the idea that gender is strictly socially constructed is ludicrous.Joshs

    Can you say some more?
  • Joshs
    5.3k
    Can you say some more?Tom Storm

    There are literally hundreds of individual mannerisms of gesture, speech patterning, perceptual affective comportment that make up a patterned constellation that makes up gender. Social constructs determine the various ways that such mannerisms are refined, channeled, etc, but don’t invent them from scratch. Biology produces gender in other animals(we can distinguish male from female dogs on the basis of gender behavioral differences), and if biology can generate binary genders it can produce an infinity of intermediate ones too.
  • Tom Storm
    8.5k
    Thanks. If someone says they were born in the 'wrong body' and identify as male (born sex as female) do you have some reflections regarding an approach we might take?
  • Joshs
    5.3k
    Joshs Thanks. If someone says they were born in the 'wrong body' and identify as male (born sex as female) do you have some reflections regarding an approach we might takeTom Storm

    I’ve read that the transgender community has shied way from that expression in recent years, but I don’t think many have completely abandoned the underlying split between sexual body and gendered psyche it implies. Not that I think it matters whether one justifies transitioning on the basis of body dysphoria vs social acceptance.
  • Philosophim
    2.3k
    The way the situation is usually presented is that the transgender community believes that transgender people who are biologically male should be legally and socially treated and named as women with the reverse being true for those who are biologically female. Is that not correct?T Clark

    It was my terms of gender and sex. Its difficult to address all members of the transgender community as different factions have different wants. I simply started with the terms "gender and sex" as to my knowledge, is generally agreed upon by the majority of the community. If some in the community with what you've asked above, my point is that this does not line up with the terms they've offered.
  • Philosophim
    2.3k
    There are some who argue that gender is pulley a social
    construct, but I dont think you’ll find that to be a majority view within the gay community. My own view is that the biological and the social are inextricably, and for many who believe they were born with their particular gender already put in place, the idea that gender is strictly socially constructed is ludicrous
    Joshs

    If you believe that gender is not a social construct, then please feel free to offer the alternative, and how it is separate from sex. As for the definition of gender above, what if we have different gender viewpoints of how a man and woman should act? What if I believe wearing a dress is what women do, but then I go to Japan and see males wear kimonos or go to Scotland and see males wearing kilts?
  • T Clark
    13k
    If someone says they were born in the 'wrong body' and identify as male (born sex as female) do you have some reflections regarding an approach we might take?Tom Storm

    Is this something you've ever had to deal with in your work?
  • Tom Storm
    8.5k
    I work with several trans people and I have known quite a few trans people over 30 years. I refer to them by their chosen gender and there have never been any issues, whether trans male or trans female. A friend of mine is trans and says they never felt male and always felt female. It helps them to look that way so that they are recognized as their preferred gender. I sometimes use a male pronoun by accident on account of years of habit. I have friends with children who are trans. They don't think their body matches their sense of self. That's how they describe it.

    It's complicated and people are different, even trans folk. I am not an expert on the subject.
  • Philosophim
    2.3k
    They don't think their body matches their sense of self.Tom Storm

    Is this in the sense of gender, or sex though? If its sex, I think that has some actual merit. This would be a transsexual, which is different then being transgender.
  • hypericin
    1.5k
    The traditional use of pronouns is to identify sex, not gender.Philosophim

    What tradition? The sex/gender distinction doesn't have enough history to have a tradition. Pronouns were and are applied to a conglomerate of what we now consider sex and gender.
  • NOS4A2
    8.4k


    I don’t use the word “gender” anymore unless it refers to grammar. Better to abandon the term, I say, and stick to “sex”. It basically clears up any confusion.
  • Philosophim
    2.3k
    What tradition? The sex/gender distinction doesn't have enough history to have a tradition. Pronouns were and are applied to a conglomerate of what we now consider sex and gender.hypericin

    I disagree with this. In cultures across the world there have always been cross dressers or people who took on cultural expressions of the other sex, but were always still seen as their sex. There are male and female cross dressers, but no one thought a cross dresser became the opposite sex of what they are. Please give me an example in which one a person's enactment of the opposite sex erased their actual sex in the culture.
  • Tom Storm
    8.5k
    Is this in the sense of gender, or sex though?Philosophim

    My understanding is it's gender, which is separate to biological sex. But I'm not one for debating this minefield of a subject, I'm no expert and people understand it in different ways. I'm happy to support trans-people and I've never experienced any problems associated with the issue in the years I have known and/or worked with trans or gender diverse people.
  • Philosophim
    2.3k
    I don’t use the word “gender” anymore unless it refers to grammar. Better to abandon the term, I say, and stick to “sex”. It basically clears up any confusion.NOS4A2

    It is a useful word however if it accurately describes a cultural expectation for a sex to act or present in society.
  • Philosophim
    2.3k
    My understanding is it's gender, which is separate to biological sex. But I'm not one for debating this minefield of a subject, I'm no expert and people understand it in different ways. I'm happy to support trans-people and I've never experienced any problems associated with the issue in the years I have known and/or worked with trans or gender diverse people.Tom Storm

    No one is disparaging you or hopefully taking this conversation as a measure of whether you support trans people. This is about exploring the terminology and trying to make a clear distinction of what is appropriate and right in regards to the use of gender vs sex. When I see the word "transgender" in popular culture it is currently unclear and confusing. I see certain requests being made that do not make sense to me if transgender is defined as I've seen it. To me, this asks for a discussion about how we as a society should interact with trans people's requests, like wanting to cross sports for example.
  • Tom Storm
    8.5k
    When I see the word "transgender" in popular culture it is currently unclear and confusing.Philosophim

    Sure. I'm happy for others to worry about definitions. It's never been confusing in practice for me or the people around me, but I understand it preoccupies a lot of people's time. Bear in mind definitions are tricky - we can't really define religion as Karen Armstrong and our own @Wayfarer point out. Atheism has a range of definitions. I take it to mean I have heard no good reasons to believe in gods, others take it to mean that there are no gods. And on it goes. :wink:
  • Wayfarer
    21k
    where's that ten-foot barge pole I had just now......
  • Tom Storm
    8.5k
    I left mine in my other pants pocket.
  • Philosophim
    2.3k
    Bear in mind definitions are tricky - we can't really define religion as Karen Armstrong and our own Wayfarer point out.Tom Storm

    In my view setting up definitions that can then be taken and applied to the world in meaningful ways is one of the major goals of philosophy. Its not that we can't define things, it is that it is difficult and many people are content with using what gets them through life without having to think too hard about it.

    In your day to day interactions, I'm sure there's no issue with transgendered individuals. That is not what this discussion is about. There is an active portion of that community that is insisting, not merely requesting, that people call them particular pronouns or that they be able to play cross sex sports. That to deny this is transphobic. That doesn't make any sense to me. It doesn't make sense to a lot of people. Focusing on the vocabulary allows me to start a discussion for those who are interested in exploring the concept. If you are not, that's fine, but its not an impossible topic to think about.
  • Tom Storm
    8.5k
    That is not what this discussion is about.Philosophim

    I generally think practice or doing is more important than theory, but I hear you. A useful definition I have gone by is a transgender person is someone whose gender identity or gender expression does not correspond with the sex they were assigned at birth. That's a standard definition.

    I've probably said all that matters to me on this subject. I'm old enough to remember when we rooted out 'fags' on the football field because 1) 'they played like girls' and 2) 'they'd be staring at your dick in the locker room and upsetting team morale'. Yes, a different issue, with alternative nuances, but it is instructive around how we formulate responses about identity and how apple carts are predictably upset.

    Issues around bathroom use, sport access, prison allocations are all matters of etiquette and practice we can work out over time. Will there be mistakes? Sure. Will there be good news stories? Them too. Happy for you to explore these with others interested, although bear in mind the bigots often use specific and infrequent examples of sport or prisons to justify trans hatred in what I suspect is a hasty generalisation fallacy.

    .
  • Philosophim
    2.3k
    I generally think practice or doing is more important than theory, but I hear you.Tom Storm

    I previously noted that I feel a goal of philosophy is to construct definitions that are useful. Theory is interesting, but practice is useful.

    A useful definition I have gone by is a transgender person is someone whose gender identity or gender expression does not correspond with the sex they were assigned at birth. That's a standard definition.Tom Storm

    Yes, I am aware of this standard definition, and it doesn't make sense to me. If gender is a social construct, how can you have one that doesn't fit your body? It would make more sense that you don't have a social construct that fits your social setting, not your body.

    I do not abide by insulting people for their sexual or gender preferences. I care about clear communication, and requests of people that make logical sense. Being afraid of being called a bigot or some other horrible word for wanting to explore this comes with the territory of philosophy. I understand your implications and your fears Tom. Such fears can be diminished however if the attitude going in ensures that the focus is on the logic, and not derision or insults. I appreciate your points and understand why you are bowing out.
  • Tzeentch
    3.4k
    Transgenderism has always struck me as seriously contradictory.

    On one hand it seems to dismiss notions of male/female stereotypes, yet on the other seems to work very hard to conform to them.

    On one hand it seems to advocate self-acceptance, yet at the same time doesn't accept the part of the self that is the physical body.
  • Philosophim
    2.3k
    Transgenderism has always struck me as seriously contradictory.Tzeentch

    I feel this is due to a lack of clear vocabulary. Transgenderism has not been studied by the broad public until now, and the vocabulary we are using may very well tie too many generalities together and become a muddled mess. I do not blame the transgender community for this. Clarity of vocabulary allows clarity of thought. With unclear vocabulary it can be difficult to communicate your thoughts effectively. The attempt in the OP was to cement some clarity to particular terms and come to a conclusion based off of those terms.
  • BC
    13.2k
    does not correspond with the sex they were assigned at birthTom Storm

    One of my pet peeves. Newborns are identified as male or female, they aren't arbitrarily assigned a sex.

    All this genderendering results in such peculiar constructions as "persons with a uterus" or "pregnant persons" in health care settings. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Women (females) have uteruses and women (females) get pregnant. A woman who has had a complete hysterectomy (such as for cancer) is still a woman, just as a man who has been castrated for testicular cancer is still a man.
  • BC
    13.2k
    While I'm on the topic of pet peeves... another irritation is the LGBTQ clump. I'd be happier if we went back to "gay and lesbian", "bisexual". and "transgender" as separate categories, not always mentioned in one phrase. Gay men and lesbian women like being the sex and gender they are. Bisexuals (a large, amorphous group) have quite separate experiences and issues apart from the other two groups.

    Drag queens, with whom the press has recently become fascinated (or obsessed--can't tell which), are not transgendered. They have been usually been heterosexual as often as (usually) gay and (sometimes) lesbian. Drag acts generally rely on exaggeration.
  • Philosophim
    2.3k
    One of my pet peeves. Newborns are identified as male or female, they aren't arbitrarily assigned a sex.BC

    This language may be used because in some cases the sex of the child isn't actually clear. There are a host of abnormalities that may arise. Someone who does not have an abnormality and states they were assigned a sex is misusing the language for their situation.

    I agree that we should create a new word that describes a group of sexual individuals that vary from the norm. I propose "Variant Sexuals". Its seems an inoffensive way of demarcating differences without making them an alphabet soup.

    According to the definition of transgender, drag queens are practicing transgender actions, but only focused on fashion. Perhaps transgender identity requires one to conform to the entirely one one's social construct of what the opposite gender is. This again my require better vocabulary.
  • Tom Storm
    8.5k
    One of my pet peeves. Newborns are identified as male or female, they aren't arbitrarily assigned a sex.BC

    But who is saying anyone is arbitrarily assigned a sex? I thought this was about gender, not sex. People don't identify with the gender that accompanies their sex at birth.

    All this genderendering results in such peculiar constructions as "persons with a uterus" or "pregnant persons" in health care settings. Stupid, stupid, stupid.BC

    Even if this language is stupid, stupid, stupid - it doesn't change the reality that there are people who identify with a particular gender, regardless of the sex they are born with. How we negotiate this is a matter of etiquette and practice. It ain't going away because it's a pet peeve.
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