• Banno
    3.5k
    Gender identity in transgender folk is described as a conflict between one's internal sense of being male or female, and one's physical characteristics.

    A woman trapped in a man's body.

    Can one know what it is like to be a man? Or what it is like to be a woman? How, if one can have no more than one's own experiences?

    Is it rather the case that one can have a preference for taking on the roll of a man, or the roll of a woman, despite one's physique?
  • TheWillowOfDarkness
    1.6k


    It's a bad description. In those instances, the conflict is between one's existing body and a sense of body one belonging to.

    The specific connection to identity is defined in how those bodies relate to sex and gender catergories we use. It's not a question of measuring from the presence of one body or not.

    In this sense, there is no "what is it like to be a man" or "what is it like to be a woman". Belonging to such an identity is not determined by an external criteria like what body one has, how someone behaves or what they wear, etc.

    Instead defined by a truth of belonging to an identity itself.
  • Akanthinos
    1k
    Can one know what it is like to be a man? Or what it is like to be a woman? How, if one can have no more than one's own experiences?Banno

    I think it may have more to do with the inadequation of your experience with the expected experience that social pressure imposed on you.

    This is somewhat on point with my social life. One of my friend is transitioning into a women, and lately started giving advice to me and my group of friends on how to act around women, as if she had natural authority on the subject.

    It made for an akward conversation.
  • Banno
    3.5k
    The deeper, logical point I want to play with is that "identity" has all sorts of ambiguity.

    Consider...
    The law of identity is better phrased as every thing is the same as itself. that is,

    U(x)(x=x)

    were x is an individual, not a proposition.

    But "Trump is President" is represented as P(t), a predicate relation.

    In English both relationships are parsed using "is". The logical parsing shows that the English parsing is ambiguous.

    So Trump is Trump, and unfortunately Trump is also the President. The first "is" is the "is" of identity; the second, the "is" of predication.
    Banno

    ...which had me re-thinking Rebecca Reilly-Cooper's interesting analysis.
  • TheWillowOfDarkness
    1.6k


    I tend to avoid those sorts of propositional relations in this context because they try to set out identity as a language rule (e.g. "Trump is the president") of a proposition.

    They don't give an adequate account because they are about whether someone's claim meets a rule, rather than the definition of identity.

    Even "Trump is president" has the first kind of "is." Before we get to a point of suggesting the truth or falisity of a proposition, we need to index the relevant elements.

    I cannot make the conclusion "Trump is president" is a true proposition without first understanding the identity Trump is president. The former is understood only in the context of the latter.

    Without gasping that identity, I couldn't answer the question. If I just knew Trump is Trump, and the president is the president, I wouldn't have an answer to whether Trump was president. I would lack the indexing of what I knew to the relevant person.
  • raza
    704
    Or what it is like to be a woman?Banno

    As a male I know what it is like to be a lesbian woman. Does that count?
  • frank
    1.7k
    it rather the case that one can have a preference for taking on the roll of a man, or the roll of a woman, despite one's physique?Banno

    That suggests some self beyond any particular role. That's a well worn idea.
  • raza
    704
    That's a well worn idea.frank

    Is that a negative vote for the idea if it has been worn well or is it just an observation that the idea is reasonably irrefutable over a long time?

    Your reply just has zero substance in it's structure to know what you mean or where you stand with the idea, so merely for the sake of clarity.....
  • frank
    1.7k
    it's a valuable idea. It's a key component to the idea of social mobility. You are not the role you're presently playing. You're something else. Its from that transcendent position that you choose the role you want to play.

    This is also related to Heidegger's notion of Dasein and authenticity, but we wouldn't call that thing beyond the role a "self".
  • raza
    704
    As with the Shakespearean "World as stage - upon which we are but merely actors (paraphrase)", presumably.
  • unenlightened
    2.8k
    Can one know what it is like to be a man? Or what it is like to be a woman? How, if one can have no more than one's own experiences?Banno

    It feels entirely normal to me to feel like me. But other people think I'm weird.

    Living with Mrs Un has obliged me to become aware of being white, and aware that the normality of whiteness, the unawareness of the identity is a privilege of whiteness in the culture. A non-white person simply cannot walk down the street unaware of their non-whiteness; it impinges itself by way of 'the look', which roughly translates as "who do you think you are?" It is a question that it is a privilege not to be forced to confront. Not to confront it is to feel at home.

    Can one know what it is like to feel at home, or not to feel at home? To be questionable or un questionable? Only by 'encountering the other'.

    Let me declare that one's identity is not one's role, in any straightforward sense. There is a huge gulf between a transvestite, who prefers (sometimes) the role of the opposite sex, and trans gender identification as the opposite sex.

    I feel at home in my body, but not everyone does. Where this bites folks on the bum is that in encountering that other, who does not feel at home in their body, one's own identity is called into question - the unquestioned becomes questionable; the comfortable becomes uncomfortable; one becomes aware, paradoxically, that one's identity is a role, but one that one has played unconsciously one's whole life, like one's posture, that one can change by a conscious effort - for about 30 seconds.

    Men are hairy, and women are not; everyone knows that. But are you an hairy man, or a smooth man?

  • raza
    704
    It's certainly a concept that works on a practical, psychological level, I think. The not identifying oneself as role or even as body (including mind/brain).
  • raza
    704
    Living with Mrs Un has obliged me to become aware of being white, and aware that the normality of whiteness, the unawareness of the identity is a privilege of whiteness in the culture. A non-white person simply cannot walk down the street unaware of their non-whiteness; it impinges itself by way of 'the look', which roughly translates as "who do you think you are?" It is a question that it is a privilege not to be forced to confront. Not to confront it is to feel at home.unenlightened

    There is a personal remedy. The not identifying oneself as role or even as body (including mind/brain).

    It is employing, for oneself, a psychological trick to counter the culture tricks and the trickiness of mindlessness.

    After all, those "who do you think you are?" looks are just demonstrations of mindlessness that is not worth fighting against. Battles of the kind you allude to are ultimately interior, and therefore, as a consequence, the most fulfilling to win.

    The mindless will l probably never even reach the juncture of opportunity for such fulfillment.
  • tim wood
    1.3k
    Now 70 years of age, I recognize in my own life what I never recognized when young: change. Change in permanent tension with the assumption that a) everything is as it seems, and b) will forever remain that way.

    I met and have worked with some gay men. (Clearly we all have, but this was in an organization concerned with violence, and their gayness was a kind of job qualification.) I asked them to define homosexuality - what "gay" is. They couldn't do it, and they acknowledged that it couldn't be done. That is, is there a sine qua non either of being or not being gay, or with respect to any aspect of sexuality?

    And apparently there is not.

    My understanding of sexuality has evolved from "buying" the nature side of the argument to giving more consideration to the nurture side. Fantastic social pressure is applied to achieve a kind of standard. Odd things can squeeze out under high pressures, and not just in terms of sexuality, but certainly in sexuality and expressions thereof. Much of the acting out of sexuality is so ever-present we don't even see it. But any heterosexual man could easily spend most of a day oogling it at a warm weather beach without even being aware of just how strange it all is, yet at the same time so completely unremarkable.

    When I try to account for sexuality, I recognize that life involves two fundamental properties that have always been present and always must be present, and that as such on earth are as old as life on earth, however primitive or developed the life form is: conversion of fuel to energy and reproduction. Eating and sex.

    Which is to say that for any individual to claim control over either of these, or to be author of either in his or her own body, is pure ignorance.

    Against this, gender assignment is mere social function and fiction. I suspect that many folks eventually free themselves, at least in terms of understanding, of these social-sexual restraints. Some folks do it early, some never.

    Are some people "born that way"? Testimony seems to confirm that there are.

    My point, I suppose, is that it's possible to recognize that sex is something people (and everything else alive) both have and do. How and with whom really Does. Not. Matter! And to be sure, in as much as it is a life we're all living, our own and no one else's, many things evolve from should/should-not to either-I-do-or-in-this-life-it-never-happens. Most folks, of course, are content with their life (long) patterns and satisfied to bypass some possible experiences.

    The sickness, or deviance, as it were, isn't in us, it's social/cultural.
  • Banno
    3.5k
    Living with Mrs Un has obliged me to become aware of being white, and aware that the normality of whiteness, the unawareness of the identity is a privilege of whiteness in the culture. A non-white person simply cannot walk down the street unaware of their non-whiteness; it impinges itself by way of 'the look', which roughly translates as "who do you think you are?" It is a question that it is a privilege not to be forced to confront. Not to confront it is to feel at home.unenlightened

    Similar with Wife and Disability.

    I, at present, am a hairy man. I have, at times. been a smooth man. In those periods of my life when I have been smooth, I have indeed felt a deep absence, as something were missing from my life.

    And my chin was cold.
  • Banno
    3.5k
    ...change...tim wood

    So, as Satre, being proceeds essence, and we are obliged to choose; easy, then, to choose from the ubiquitous roles really set before us; to bypass some experiences.

    Choice is part of change.

    Is choice part of identity?
  • fdrake
    1.5k
    This is really good. It's not very documentary-ish but it's definitely... very informative...

  • S
    6.2k
    Is it rather the case that one can have a preference for taking on the roll of a man, or the roll of a woman, despite one's physique?Banno

    I don't think that that's necessarily the case instead of having an internal sense of being male or female, in conflict with one's physical characteristics. It could be either or both. But it is just a sense, and a sense can be right or wrong, and I do not believe that there is any reality to the idea of being a woman trapped inside a man's body, beyond the sense.

    Can one know what it is like to be a man? Or what it is like to be a woman? How, if one can have no more than one's own experiences?Banno

    To some extent, but not fully. I don't exclude what we gain from our experience of the opposite gender - through observation, interaction, our ability to relate and to imagine, and suchlike - from our knowledge of what it is like to be that gender.
  • Moliere
    1.4k
    Gender identity in transgender folk is described as a conflict between one's internal sense of being male or female, and one's physical characteristicsBanno

    It is. But not always.

    I'm not sure exactly the aspect of identity you're interested in. Is your focus on sex and gender, or is it on interiority -- feeling like such and such -- and exteriority?
  • Banno
    3.5k
    interiorityMoliere
  • Moliere
    1.4k
    Gotcha.

    Then my answer is yes -- one can know what it is like to be such and such. How do I claim this? Well, people make these sorts of claims frequently. They are believable to me because I have such feelings too. The claims are about their own experiences, but also highlight similarities in experience. And even though such descriptions change between time, place, and person they also have similarities that allow people who feel like such and such to bond over such identifiers, and even theorize about their identities.

    Now, that doesn't exactly answer how it is possible to be able to do such. It only justifies that one can do so. I'd also point out that even though it can be done that this isn't exhaustive of identity. In some ways the theories, the descriptors, the names are products of what is more basic -- individual experience. So you can disagree over the meaning of a name, the descriptor, the theory to explain what it is you're feeling based upon individual experience, even if it doesn't quite match the general trend.
  • S
    6.2k
    I met and have worked with some gay men. (Clearly we all have, but this was in an organization concerned with violence, and their gayness was a kind of job qualification.) I asked them to define homosexuality - what "gay" is. They couldn't do it, and they acknowledged that it couldn't be done. That is, is there a sine qua non either of being or not being gay, or with respect to any aspect of sexuality?tim wood

    I find that ridiculous, as, I can say with confidence, would many others, whether gay, straight, or other. Clearly there is meaning enough to come up with at least a working definition.
  • StreetlightX
    3.1k
    I came across Contra's videos not too long ago and tho the gags are super hit and miss for me, I think she's doing wonderful work, esp. with vids like that.
  • tim wood
    1.3k
    I find that ridiculous, as, I can say with confidence, would many others, whether gay, straight, or other. Clearly there is meaning enough to come up with at least a working definition.Sapientia

    Great. Now go back and read my post. Got it? Now you tell me what, if anything, gay is. Keep in mind the point here is not a "working definition," but a clear statement as to what it is, perhaps that could stand as a go-no-go test. Bitter Crank, whom I am not about to gainsay on this topic, has half of it nailed, imo: a gay person knows that he is gay. Which is good, but it's not an answer to the question. That is, educate or learn.
  • Relativist
    446

    "Then my answer is yes -- one can know what it is like to be such and such. "
    You should let Thomas Nagel know.
  • Moliere
    1.4k
    I do not know what it is like to be a bat. But I do know what it is like to be myself. I do not know what it is like to be you or he or she or them. But we may know what it is like to be poor.

    What's the problem?
  • Relativist
    446

    Consider why we can't know what it's like to be a bat. Among the reasons: our perceptions are based on our world-view, and our world-view is a product of hard-wiring, and layers of experience. Each layer of experience is a product of the lower (earlier) layers.

    Males and females are hardwired differently. Among other differences are the hormonal - these influence our perceptions. A boy may empathize with girls rather than boys (and vice versa), and conceptualize an opposite gender-role, but it will not be identical to being that opposite sex. (Don't construe this to imply I'm opposed to trans-rights. I'm socially liberal on this, but that doesn't mean I can set aside reasonable analysis.)
  • Moliere
    1.4k
    I would say the reason I don't know what it is like to be a bat is because I am not a bat. I know bats use echolocation, and I can imagine what that might be like. But I don't know what it is like simply by the fact that I am not that.

    I know what it is like to be poor because I have been poor. I am not currently poor, and I know that because I know the exact pressures and feelings of poorness, having been so myself at one point.

    I'd basically just leave talk of hard-wiring out of it.
  • S
    6.2k
    Great. Now go back and read my post. Got it?tim wood

    :lol:

    Now you tell me what, if anything, gay is. Keep in mind the point here is not a "working definition," but a clear statement as to what it is, perhaps that could stand as a go-no-go test. Bitter Crank, whom I am not about to gainsay on this topic, has half of it nailed, imo: a gay person knows that he is gay. Which is good, but it's not an answer to the question. That is, educate or learn.tim wood

    The "if anything" is funny, suggesting that it's possible that it's nothing at all. How absurd.

    Listen, Woody, do you really need me or anyone else to tell you what "gay" is? No, I don't believe so. It's hilarious that you felt it necessary to ask your former colleagues, and then took their stupid answer as gospel, just because they're gay.

    To be gay is to be homosexual, which is to be sexually attracted to people of one's own sex, or exclusively so. It seems to be used more in relation to men than women. You could've gotten that from a dictionary. And yes, that definition could be pedantically picked apart like practically any other definition, with the words "game" and "chair" being good examples. But that doesn't mean that the meaning is a mystery or that there is no meaning at all. Get a grip, lad.
  • Relativist
    446
    I would say the reason I don't know what it is like to be a bat is because I am not a batMoliere
    You're also not a girl (I assume). There certainly are more differences between bats and humans than there are between boys and girls, but they're still different. The differences are physical as well as social. There certainly is a "girl role" that is "imposed" on girls, but that role is part of their identity. A boy who'd like to live in that role will not have had the same experiences as the girl.

    Of course, we could chose to define the "girl role" in a way that people of either genetic sex could fit - but there will be arbitrariness to it. I'm actually OK with doing that, but this doesn't make it something more than it is (arbitrary).

    I know what it is like to be poor because I have been poor.
    Same here. I wonder if we experienced it the same way, though. Everyone experiences things based on who and what they are, and on their environment.
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