• darthbarracuda
    2.9k
    Touchy subject, I know. What are your thoughts on the transgender movement?

    The transgender movement may be increasing awareness of the existence of many gender non-conforming individuals but I also think it might be contributing to the gender issue itself. Generally I don't think gender is a good thing, I think freedom of self-expression is a good thing. Gender is a way of boxing people into social norms that they may or may not wish to follow (as well as excluding other people from positions and activities). It's a form of oppression unconsciously (but sometimes deliberately) fueling the patriarchy and which harms both women and men.

    I think a person should be able to express themselves in a gender non-conforming way without actually having to "switch" genders, get sex reassignment or hormone therapy, etc. If gender is oppressive then it stands that "switching" to another gender to free yourself of your birth-imposed gender, although perhaps "liberating" to yourself, is actually reinforcing the gender phenomenon. It's a way of re-forming the system when the system is what should be abolished.

    Furthermore, although a transgender person may feel uncomfortable in certain public areas (like bathrooms), I think it is necessary that the two biological sexes have certain areas that are separated from each other. A transwoman may feel comfortable in a women's restroom, but this is unfortunately a violation of a standard safe space for women.

    I think, to a certain extent, that sex reassignment or hormone treatment, etc can be a form of mutilation (although if someone does wish to go through with this treatment they should not be stopped - however the treatment available today is still fairly sketchy). I think that if you wish to have a "vagina" when you have a penis, then you can do so, but you cannot change to be female if you are male (and vice versa). Biological sex has lots of statistics and relationships associated with it and I do not think it is wise to ignore this.

    I don't particularly buy into the idea that transpeople have a "sexual fetish" for the other sex, nor do I think transpeople in general are dangerous or immoral or intentionally trying to violate other people's rights. I do, however, think that gender is a bad thing that should be abolished in favor for freedom of expression without having to align a form of expression with a gender. "Gender non-conforming" should be a phrase that becomes non-existent and unfortunately I think the transgender movement is preventing this from happening by reinforcing gender.
  • StreetlightX
    4.7k
    Without commenting on transgenderism per se, I think it's too narrow to see gender as only oppressive. I think gender itself can be a vector of self-expression, to the extent that one can find joy in the expression of one's masculinity or femininity, to the extent that a gender may be as much as site of bonding, fraternity and empowerment as any other form of identification/differentiation. Which is not to say that gender is only this, but that it is, as it were, ambivalent between it's 'good' and it's 'bad' faces. The trick is in negotiating the concrete circumstances that one finds one's gender in.
  • WISDOMfromPO-MO
    753
    The overwhelming majority of people are ignorant about the variety of human behavior--including self-expression--that is considered normal.

    If we are going to call gender norms oppressive then to be consistent we would have to call all norms oppressive. We would have to call anything that demands that anybody conform to any norm oppressive. For example, we are socialized to believe that we are biologically wired to be "sexual beings". There are probably people who do not think of themselves as "sexual beings". If telling somebody based on biology that he is a man is oppressive then telling somebody that due to his biology he is a "sexual being" is oppressive.

    The solution is to educate people about how diverse human behavior is and how the categories that we classify ourselves with are biased towards certain worldviews. The problem is the ignorance of individuals, not any system.
  • fishfry
    1.2k
    For those who are genuinely transgender, public understanding and acceptance is a godsend.

    But many people these days think transitioning will solve their emotional problems. It doesn't, and now there's a trend of reverse surgery, where people want to go back where they started, gender wise. Recently a well-respected academic wanted to do research on reverse transitioning, and he got into some sort of political trouble.

    So I wholeheartedly endorse and support understanding and acceptance of gender issues. But the politicization of it, I deplore. Well that's true of just about everything. I'm a social liberal who is appalled and horrified by the tactics and rhetoric and anti-intellectualism and flat out hate and anger of what passes for the left these days. I'm unalterably opposed to the people I agree with!!

    Another datapoint is that they'll give hormones and other gender drugs to toddlers. At 3 years old you don't know what gender you are and you don't care. 8, 10, it's a phase. If you drug and surgery every confused adolescent, that's a bad idea.

    It's like everything else. The poisonous politics of the left outweighs their good intentions. That leaves me no political allies at all.

    So, support for transgenders? Yes. Excessive politicization, taking everything to extremes, name-calling and no-platforming everyone who even raises a question? No. That I don't support. I really hate modern politics. The US didn't used to be this crazy. I'm worried.

    ps -- Here is the story I alluded to earlier.

    In late September, the United Kingdom’s Bath Spa University turned down an application by James Caspian, a psychotherapist who specializes in working with transgender people, to conduct research on gender reassignment reversals. The university deemed the subject “potentially politically incorrect.”

    http://thefederalist.com/2017/10/04/university-refuses-research-growing-numbers-trans-people-want-go-back/

    Madness! You HAVE to be able to ask questions. But the politics are that you can't do research on anything that contradicts the leftist orthodoxy.
  • Baden
    9.2k
    I'm a social liberal who is appalled and horrified by the tactics and rhetoric and anti-intellectualism and flat out hate and anger of what passes for the left these days.fishfry

    The poisonous politics of the left outweighs their good intentionsfishfry

    Who is this left? I mean I consider myself to be on the left (on most issues). So do most university professors traditionally. Why are the anti-intellectual extremists the left and others not?
  • deletedmemberwy
    1.1k
    The whole movement actually encourages struggling people to not accept themselves. For those truly struggling with identity, changing gender is not going to help the real problem of not accepting themselves. They "feel" like they should be something else, but next week those emotions could change. If they allow their feelings to rage unchecked, then how does this benefit them? How is society helping them to accept themselves if it encourages them to change based on feelings? For instance, a young girl may "feel" fat, so should society encourage her to starve herself and inflict potentially fatal results so that she may "feel" beautiful? Or should society encourage her to live a healthy lifestyle and accept her body the way it is? It is the same thing with the transgender movement, except more of mental damage being done than physical. Encourage those people to accept and love themselves just the way they are, no matter what their feelings do.
  • darthbarracuda
    2.9k
    Without commenting on transgenderism per se, I think it's too narrow to see gender as only oppressive. I think gender itself can be a vector of self-expression, to the extent that one can find joy in the expression of one's masculinity or femininity, to the extent that a gender may be as much as site of bonding, fraternity and empowerment as any other form of identification/differentiation. Which is not to say that gender is only this, but that it is, as it were, ambivalent between it's 'good' and it's 'bad' faces. The trick is in negotiating the concrete circumstances that one finds one's gender in.StreetlightX

    I think in this sense gender is just like race - white people like to be around white people, black people around black people, just as guys like to be around guys, girls around girls, etc. It's human nature to want to be a part of those who are similar. That's not to say that black people necessarily hate being around white people, I'm of course not saying that. I'm saying that I think it is reasonable to believe that, given a choice, most people "feel at home" more around those who are similar to each other. And in some cases this is indeed a rational thing to feel - i.e. when a woman feels comfortable in a women-only restroom knowing that she is safe(r), surrounded by other women who feel the same thing.

    We can work on overcoming prejudice and fear and becoming a mutually recognizing society. However I think this means getting rid of certain things, like gender, or at least separating the connection between biological sex and socially-conditioned gender, because of this "feeling of home". A transman will not be accepted as a man because he is not a man. You can go through the "motions" of being a man, get sex reassignment surgery, physically appear "as" a man, but this will not make you a man.

    My view on this is that a woman should be able to "dress as a man", that is, be "masculine", without having to get a sex change or hormonal treatment, or calling themselves a man. I am not opposed to gender non-conforming behavior, I'm opposed to the activism behind transgenderism, because it is vocally cementing this connection between biological sex and gender.

    If we are going to call gender norms oppressive then to be consistent we would have to call all norms oppressive. We would have to call anything that demands that anybody conform to any norm oppressive. For example, we are socialized to believe that we are biologically wired to be "sexual beings". There are probably people who do not think of themselves as "sexual beings". If telling somebody based on biology that he is a man is oppressive then telling somebody that due to his biology he is a "sexual being" is oppressive.WISDOMfromPO-MO

    Yes, I mean, I recognize myself when you mentioned the socialization of us as sexual beings, since I've never had an intimate relationship nor do I particularly want to, let alone have sex with another person. It's oppressive to me when other people shockingly ask why I haven't gotten laid yet or have a girlfriend or whatever. It doesn't impact anyone else so what's the big deal?

    In the case of gender (and sex), I think it's important to leave sex as an identity because of how useful it is. A gender dysphoric man may feel uncomfortable in a men's restroom, but think how uncomfortable women would feel if he were to transition and go into their restroom. Their sex may be oppressive to themselves but mitigating this oppression ends up coming at the cost of a great many more's rights.

    If a gender dysphoric man dresses "as a woman" and enters a women's restroom there will be a panic, because this man is a man even if he dresses "as a woman". If this gender dysphoric man gets sex reassignment surgery and enters a women's restroom there will be still be a feeling of discomfort since this is, in fact, a man who has had his physical traits changed.

    I wonder if perhaps this issue might go away if technology progresses to such a degree that hormone therapy and sex surgery can make someone of one sex indistinguishable to another sex. But unfortunately this probably is not the case since, for example, a transwoman cannot be a "lesbian" - they are heterosexual but gender non-conforming. And it still does not address the other main point in the OP, that we ought to sever the link between gender and sex, so people can be free to express themselves without feeling the need to actually alter their bodies - I think transgender activism is not helping people feel at home in their bodies but rather reinforcing the idea that you need to change who you are in order to feel at home.

    ^
  • Forgottenticket
    162
    btw, this whole abolishing gender thing. Does it not sound a little imperialistic at all? Are you sure all of the other cultures on the planet want it abolished?
  • Bitter Crank
    8.6k
    The US didn't used to be this crazy.fishfry

    It is this crazy quite often. Just different issues, different personalities, different tactics.

    The transgenderism movement, which began with fairly modest goals, has achieved some real success, but I think it has gone off the deep end with "gender non-conforming" heading in all sorts of directions, including parents of some young children who are being assured that their 3 year old might need hormones.

    People are free to revolt against whatever norms they don't like, but society is under no obligation to recognize their revolution as admirable, natural, or wholesome.

    Here's an article suggesting that a contagious social hysteria is driving some of the transgender movement.
  • Baden
    9.2k
    The whole movement actually encourages struggling people to not accept themselves. For those truly struggling with identity, changing gender is not going to help the real problem of not accepting themselves. They "feel" like they should be something else, but next week those emotions could change. If they allow their feelings to rage unchecked, then how does this benefit them? How is society helping them to accept themselves if it encourages them to change based on feelings? For instance, a young girl may "feel" fat, so should society encourage her to starve herself and inflict potentially fatal results so that she may "feel" beautiful? Or should society encourage her to live a healthy lifestyle and accept her body the way it is? It is the same thing with the transgender movement, except more of mental damage being done than physical. Encourage those people to accept and love themselves just the way they are, no matter what their feelings do.Lone Wolf

    Is this based on some kind of evidence or is it just what sounds plausible to you?
  • Baden
    9.2k


    Naturally enough, a minority group, particularly a very misunderstood one will seek to push things as far as they can in order to get a foothold in society and reinforce their sense of security. Liberals will tend to take their side pretty much in proportion to their vulnerability and as there are fewer groups more vulnerable and abused than transgenders (it's not just "fag" or "dyke", it's "freak" on top of that) that can amount to a fairly powerful movement once it takes off. Helping it along is the fact that university professors tend to be liberals and are a major mover in politically correct campaigns so you can get a trickle turning into a flood pretty quickly and then existing cultural norms start to look like the vulnerable parties (particularly to conservatives).

    This is about where we are at now I think (trickle to flood territory) and where it takes some stepping back and weighing up to achieve balance. Where I think we can't go too far is in understanding what transgenderism is and understanding the discrimination, abuse and ridicule trans people face often on a daily basis. Put yourself in those shoes and some radical shifts in perspective will probably seem justified. Where I think we can go too far though is in giving any group a disproportionate influence over aspects of culture that are shared and fairly fixed, such as, with regard to language, closed word classes like pronouns. I mean it's fine to come up with new vocabulary in open word classes like nouns to describe transgender people and as far as I'm concerned you can have as many words for in-betweens as fit. But you don't artificially mess with things like pronouns, which despite their lack of utility in certain situations, are naturally resistant to change for good reasons, and you certainly don't legislate to enforce the use of new language as has happened in Canada.

    So, my general view on the transgender movement is that I support it but recognize that not all of its interests are going to correspond with the public interest, and it's not unfair to sensitively put on the breaks in certain areas. That should be done with reasonable argument though not shouting about the evils of "political correctness" which is so encompassing a concept, it's hardly worth saying anything at all about.
  • StreetlightX
    4.7k
    I'm saying that I think it is reasonable to believe that, given a choice, most people "feel at home" more around those who are similar to each other. And in some cases this is indeed a rational thing to feel - i.e. when a woman feels comfortable in a women-only restroom knowing that she is safe(r), surrounded by other women who feel the same thing.darthbarracuda

    I don't disagree with this, but on the other hand, I think this is largely a matter of habit and habit formation. I can only in truth speak anecdotally here: I've been lucky enough to have grown up in places where 'mixing between races' was not only common, but the norm. That is, had you only hung around people of the same race, you'd have been the odd one out. That I did grow up among such circumstances is itself, I acknowledge, a rather rare and even privileged thing, and I get that for someone who didn't share this kind of upbringing, the 'feeling at home' that I have may not be shared. But the point of course, is that this also works in reverse - the 'feeling at home' among people of say, a similar color, is as much a product of habit formation as the habits that formed me. Which leads me to my next point, also anecdotal:

    A transman will not be accepted as a man because he is not a man. You can go through the "motions" of being a man, get sex reassignment surgery, physically appear "as" a man, but this will not make you a man.darthbarracuda

    I have a trans mate. For all intents and purposes, I, and everyone I know, treats her as a woman. Perhaps you might say she is 'not really a woman', but - to what end? She certainly finds a certain joy and liberation though her gender, and you're right, it does, in the end, reinforce the 'system' of gender. But, in this case, the relationship to gender here is a healthy one, even if it does involve, no doubt, a certain amount of struggle (and who doesn't struggle with their sexuality?). To some extent I don't think there is a one-size fits all solution here - gender, like race, is a site of continual struggle and self/other-negotiation. One imagines that there would be others still who would be better off without having to negotiate gender at all. But how do we weigh these conflicting approaches here? I'm not convinced one can come up with a categorical solution - in every instance it's our actions, and the actions of those around us who determine what a healthy 'gender environment' might be.
  • darthbarracuda
    2.9k
    Very interesting response, Baden, thanks. As I tried to make clear earlier, I'm not against transgender people, I take issue with the movement. I'm a college student at a fairly liberal university, there's lots of progressive stuff going on here. What I notice a lot is how over the top, in your face, the LGBTQ groups are, as if the world dances to their music. It's very shallow lovey dovey and doesn't seem to be very serious.

    The main problem I have is that the transgender movement has made itself a "part" of feminism, when the reality is that some of the things it's advocating threaten core parts of feminism. Feminism is first and foremost women-oriented, it's not about equality but women's issues, oftentimes how women are to be liberated from some form of oppression, which includes gender. It's a very serious movement with very serious issues. The transgender movement ends up ignoring this. In fact the issues the transgender movement bring up are shallow issues - pronouns, dating, clothing, etc, not the real issues transgenders face, like violence and abuse.

    As you pointed out, it does seem as though the transgender movement might be demanded "too much". This is my main issue with social justice movements, that they tend to make everything about them. The world is filled with all sorts of differences and it cannot hope to satisfy everyone. It may be unfair, say, to not allow a transwoman to enter a women's restroom, but it is also unfair to put other women at risk of assault.

    Of course, if you disallow transwomen from entering women restrooms you are not recognizing them as "real" women. Which is why I think it's killing two birds with one stone when I say we should get rid of gender and maintain natal sex. For the sake of women, we're going to have to make an exception. It's not that we hate transpeople but that we recognize that this is a tricky social issue that cannot satisfy everyone. There is only so much freedom you can give someone until this starts impinging on the freedom of others.

    Cool to hear from someone with a partner who is trans. I'm not trying to be rude here, I know it's a delicate issue, but I do see transgender people as wanting to pretend they are someone they are not. I'm not sure how someone can just "choose" this kind of identity for themselves, even if they don't like the one they have. I acknowledge that it can be quite uncomfortable being a man if you don't want to be a man. However I think most liberations come not from a sex surgery but from a way of expressing yourself, how you act, what you wear, etc. To that extent it's more that masculinity and femininity provide outlets for this liberation, but it's not, or at least how I see it, should not be a requirement to have a certain physical body in order to express yourself. A man can be feminine but he cannot be a woman, even if people treat them as if they were a woman.

    Do you think a transgender person can ever fully believe themselves to be not of their natal sex?
  • Michael
    8.4k
    A man can be feminine but he cannot be a woman, even if people treat them as if they were a woman.darthbarracuda

    What does it mean to be a woman? If it's to have female genitals then with surgery he can be a woman. If it's to be referred to using the noun "woman" and the pronouns "her" and "she" then in being referred to with such words he can be a woman.

    Or is it that to be a woman is to have been born with an XX pair of sex chromosomes and/or (only) female genitals? The problem with this is that (almost) no transgender woman thinks this way. They claim to be women but don't claim to have been born with an XX pair of sex chromosomes and/or (only) female genitals. So at best you're just talking past each other.

    It may have been that the word "woman" historically was used to refer to a person with a certain type of born-with biology, but times have changed, and with it the meaning of the word. Semantic drift is a real thing, and it's silly to treat traditional definitions with such deference. You're more than welcome to continue using the word in its traditional way, but to think that this traditional way is authoritative and to commit to some form of essentialism, arguing that others are wrong for adopting the new way, is simply fallacious.
  • StreetlightX
    4.7k
    Cool to hear from someone with a partner who is trans.darthbarracuda

    Haha, no, not mate as in partner, mate as in friend. Sorry, it's my Australianess coming through, where all friends are referred to as mate.

    With respect to your point though, I don't see why one's relation to one's own body - perhaps the most intimate, inescapable, and literally visceral 'part' of oneself - is here excluded as vector of self-expression. Surely our very bodies are among the most primary loci of our ability to 'express ourselves'? And while I agree that it shouldn't be a 'requirement' to have a certain physical body in order to express oneself, I don't think trans people undergo gender change out of a sense of requirement (from whence would such a requirement issue?), but for, well, perhaps many reasons besides (desire, confidence, need, anxiety, longing, etc?).

    Do you think a transgender person can ever fully believe themselves to be not of their natal sex?darthbarracuda

    I do. I'd even say that this belief can, and perhaps does in many/most cases compel them to seek their change in gender. I would ask though, whether it is the case that anyone 'fully believes' that they 'are' their sex. One of the reasons that gender is so fraught is that there's always, as much as we'd like to deny it, a kind of perceptive dimension to gender: 'be a man!', 'stop throwing like a girl', 'that's not very feminine of you...'. There's always, I'd argue, a kind of distance between who we are and what we are when it comes to sex (and not just sex mind you, but all forms of identity - but that's another story). You can take this as a kind of psychoanalytic point: that we're all constitutively neurotic about our own sexuality - but some deal with that neuroticism in ways different to others.
  • Baden
    9.2k
    Haha, no, not mate as in partner, mate as in friend. Sorry, it's my Australianess coming through, where all friends are referred to as mateStreetlightX

    I picked that one up from a year in Aus and still use it. I grew up in a town where we call everyone "boy"* (pronounced "by" in the local accent).

    *(Or "girl", and yes, those are the only two choices...)
  • Michael
    8.4k
    Haha, no, not mate as in partner, mate as in friend. Sorry, it's my Australianess coming through, where all friends are referred to as mateStreetlightX

    I was confused by darthbarracuda's response because as a Brit "mate" obviously meant "friend" and not "partner". I don't think I've ever seen "mate" used in that way (except when talking about animals).
  • Another
    55
    I feel that with many issues in our societies today, People have gone beyond wanting to be accepted, We have become righteous, expecting others to recognise, understand and agree with our choices.
    We are all different, Within every community wether Homosexual, Transgender, religious ect these communities are all filled with a diverse range of people. I don't think these are the things we should lable ourselves by or judge others by.

    Your morals and ethics, your beliefs, the way you interact with others, how you contribute to your society, How much thought and effort you put into everything. I think this is what make you. To me your sexual orientation or wether you feel like a man or woman has little to no bearing on what I think of you because they have little to no effect on my life.

    Having said that, these choices of yours 'should' have no bearing on my life. Wether I agree or not they are a person's choice and should be of absolutely no consequence to me.

    The issue as bought to us is excessive and equality.
    Expecting everyone to accept and agree with your choices seems foolish to me, I would if anything anticipate that at least 90% of people would disagree with and dislike the way I live. This is fine because I don't require anyone's acceptance I don't feel the need for anyone to hear about or understand the way I live and I don't need anyone to change for me, my choices don't effect others.

    In most issues of the likes today it seems that when someone identifies as par of a 'different' community (some not all) they are happy to flaunt it proudly and wish to be recognized for their differences. Whilst at the same time want to be complain about feeling uncomfortable in the community and should be treated equally. Firstly these are personal thing with others shouldn't be concerned by, that's your life. Secondly parading who you are is pretentious, being proud however is fine but proud and uncomfortable/shamed is an oxymoron, Wanting to be recognized for your differences and at the same time wanting to be treated equal is also contradictory.

    So I think you do you, be true to yourself but don't make it an issue for others we really don't need to know and in a lot of case don't want to know. No special treatment everyone shouldn't have to change for you. Equality, Meh we are all clearly different if everyone was treated equally we would loose identity and no longer would we be able to benefit from people strengths and weaknesses.
  • deletedmemberwy
    1.1k
    And it still does not address the other main point in the OP, that we ought to sever the link between gender and sex, so people can be free to express themselves without feeling the need to actually alter their bodies - I think transgender activism is not helping people feel at home in their bodies but rather reinforcing the idea that you need to change who you are in order to feel at home.darthbarracuda

    But the problem still remains that transgenders refuse to accept that they are male, or they are female. Expression in terms of dressing is only a way to show that they hate themselves for who they are instead of accepting themselves.
  • deletedmemberwy
    1.1k
    Is this based on some kind of evidence or is it just what sounds plausible to you?Baden

    To which aspect are you referring to?
  • Baden
    9.2k


    Well, I don't think this is how it works with transgender people.

    They "feel" like they should be something else, but next week those emotions could change.Lone Wolf

    And the whole analogy with feeling too fat etc. seems like naive folk psychology. If you listen to transgender people talk, it's not a matter of fleeting emotion or whim but, for example, being stuck in the wrong body for years on end.
  • deletedmemberwy
    1.1k
    If you listen to transgender people talk, it's not a matter of fleeting emotion or whim but, for example, being stuck in the wrong body for years on end.Baden

    So more like long-term, chronic depression. They could not be in the wrong body because they were born that way. But they refuse to accept themselves.
  • Michael
    8.4k
    They could not be in the wrong body because they were born that way.Lone Wolf

    Clearly not everybody accepts the claim that the right body is the one you're born with.
  • deletedmemberwy
    1.1k
    Clearly not everybody accepts the claim that the right body is the one you're born withMichael

    Which is self-rejection...
  • Michael
    8.4k
    Well, body-rejection. Not everybody equates their self with their body.
  • Agustino
    11.3k
    Which is self-rejection...Lone Wolf


    I think the phenomenon of transexualism involves such a degree of infatuation of desire with its object that the object is transformed from an empirical one into a metaphysical one. This leads to a metaphysical vision of the other sex, where they are perceived to have self-sufficiency and full being, while you (and your sex) experience, by comparison, a profound lack. Of course, it is the very impossibility of being another sex which makes this desirable - only in this way can desire avoid being disappointed in obtaining its object - only in this way is desire capable to fool itself.
  • Michael
    8.4k
    I don't think it has anything to do with metaphysics.
  • Agustino
    11.3k
    I don't think it has anything to do with metaphysics.Michael
    Not everybody equates their self with their body.Michael
    So that's not metaphysics? :-} :-d
  • Michael
    8.4k
    So that's not metaphysics?Agustino

    The nature of the self is. Someone born with the male genitals and wanting to be a woman isn't.
  • Agustino
    11.3k
    Someone born with the male genitals and wanting to be a woman isn't.Michael
    Oh and I said it is? :s You're having a hard time today it seems to me.
  • Michael
    8.4k
    Oh and I said it is?Agustino

    You said "I think the phenomenon of transexualism involves such a degree of infatuation of desire with its object that the object is transformed from an empirical one into a metaphysical one. This leads to a metaphysical vision of the other sex."

    How am I supposed to understand this?
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