Saturday, 12 February 2011


A post I wrote on another site.
justpassingthrough wrote:
This is where we’re never going to agree. I think it’s illogical, if not preposterous, to conclude that a man who has mostly feminine-coded personality traits is therefore a woman, barring body dysphoria, which is a medical condition that can only be alleviated through the reconstruction of sex organs. Which is again, not enough to qualify as a full on metamorphosis from one sex to another.
But is it illogical that a person who has mostly feminine-coded personality traits is therefore a woman?

You’re begging the question when you say a priori that this person is “a man”. You’ve already assumed your conclusion, so of course you say it’s preposterous.

It really comes down to how you define “male” and “female”. For the extremes, and 59 people out of 60 are at those extremes, it’s simple, easy, obvious. But for some human beings, not so much.

Does being brought up as female make you a woman? David Reimer’s case would argue against that.

What about chromosomes, as the current policy of the Roman Catholic Church says? If you have 2 X chromosomes, you’re a woman (at least, that’s what the Indonesian Catholic Bishops have ruled). Even if you’re 47XXY, identify as male, and have fathered children. The disadvantages of this are obvious.

What about genitalia at birth? Apart from those with ambiguous genitalia, there are those like the Guevedoces whose genitalia changes from female-at-birth to male-after-puberty. Again, we sometimes end up with “women” who have fathered children, and identify as male.

Then there are those few whose transition is the other way.. but again, only the male form isn’t always sterile. It is in some syndromes, merely infertile in others. (Not quite true – one unique case being studied by the Mayo clinic is infertile in both, but he has male neurology).

What about the neuro-anatomically defined “feminine-coded personality traits”, as is the legal definition in Australia and Spain (for example)? Well, as you said, “mostly” applies here too, the brain is no more strictly binary than any other part of the anatomy. And again, in some trans women who are unable to access treatment when young, a few have fathered children. Once they’re post-op, this is impossible of course, and in some jurisdictions, all trans people must be sterilised by law to be recognised.

In Sweden for example. Or Western Australia. Not Germany though, there was a recent court case overturning this requirement as being far too reminiscent of their horrific past.

Then there’s other effects that are correlated with the “female feelings” caused by a female neuro-anatomy. Those traits can cause progressive physiological and biochemical dysfunction due to female-pattern braincells immersed in a male-pattern hormonal environment. You’ve also mentioned the “body map” issue, but even when not present, the requirement for hormone replacement in doses that will visibly change the body can exist.

The humane definition is that if someone thinks, feels, and above all identifies as female due to their neuro-anatomy, then they’re female. But that one’s unsatisfying to many people, perhaps most, especially cis-sexual women. Where do their rights to arrogantly define other people as female or not, or in extreme cases as human or not, end?

See Woods vs C.G Studios, where it was held obita dicta that as a person had had sex reassignment at age 3 months, they were neither male, female, nor child, thus did not fall within the definition of “human” in the legal dictionary used by the court.
This is really the crux of the issue, the cause of all of the controversy, legal and societal persecution of Trans and Intersexed people. Do the words "Man" and "Woman" have any meaning? I think they do. Do they apply to every human? No, they manifestly don't. How do we tell if someone is a "Man" or a "Woman" when they don't conform completely to either stereotype in every way? I think you just ask them. How do we reliably separate the objective metric "sex" from the subjective quality "gender"? Well, even the most butch lesbian is a woman, we manage that separation pretty well. Well, now we do. That wasn't always true.


Nicole Jade said...

"Those traits can cause progressive physiological and biochemical dysfunction due to female-pattern braincells immersed in a male-pattern hormonal environment."

I'm interested in hearing more about this statement because I feel like this could be what is happening to me.

HHB said...

Nature, through biology and evolution, has near infinite human sex. Mostly the law has only two.

Medicine is not science, nor is it law-enforcement. Medicine should assign sex according to what best promotes the art of healing. Physicians who believe science comes before healing at not fit to practice. Those who feel the law must have priority over healing give reason to change the law.

To change the law so that inverting ones legal sex does not require giving medical evidence.

Medicine will put its house in order or the lawmakers will curtail their present discretion and freedom of action.

Glenn Ingersoll said...

I remember somebody responding to the idea of gender reassignment surgery by saying, "I can't imagine any man wanting to cut off his penis!" And the response made so much sense it really stuck with me: "No, no Man would."

Kim said...

"Not Germany though, there was a recent court case overturning this requirement as being far too reminiscent of their horrific past."

In Germany still transsexual women are defined as "men who want to live in the female gender role". The Germany sexologists define them as "gender identity disordered failed homosexual men" - and the high court here followed this argumentation.

Best, Kim

Caerolle said...

Zoe, I am curious. Why are you continuing to engage with those horrid ppl at IBTP? I went there from Feministe 'cause Jill recommend it, but omg, once I got there, it is just another rad fem site. Which seem to be universally populated by women who hate trans women (even intersexxed ones, apparently). I have never known any of such ppl to ever change their mind. They aren't about reason, they are about dogma (much like the patriarchal right wingers, which would be ironic if it weren't so pathetic).

I have been so upset after reading the comments there on Friday night, had been rough. I thought I was past caring what such ppl think, but it hurt a lot. I have been going back once a day to see if the mods or the site owner stopped the whole hatefest, but apparently they aren't going to (I came here from your name there).

I am really curious to know your reasoning on your continued presence there....

Zoe Brain said...

Christie - for every participant, there are ten or more lurkers.

If alternate views are not presented, a majority view will be seen as a universal one, and be accepted unquestioned.

Right now, there are many readers who see that one side genuinely advocates a "Final Solution", while the other side is relatively reasonable.

I can't reach the h8rs. I'm not attempting to. I'm trying to reach the rest.

You don't proselytise in the Bible Belt. You don't win converts preaching to the choir. You have to journey into the belly of the beast.

5 years ago, when I started this kind of battle, I was almost alone. A solitary voice crying in the Wilderness. Quite literally alone most of the time when commenting in Right-leaning papers.

Now, it's rare that I'm the only one. The Universal Consensus has been undermined, and over half my allies are not GLBT, just enraged by the bigotry they recognise.

Don't just look at the number of comments: look at the number and variety of commenters. The h8rs are the same few names.

Why do I do it? Because it gives results.

Zoe Brain said...

Darnit that was too Caerolle, sorry, doing two replies in different contexts. My apologies.

Anonymous said...

The majority of regulars at IBTP are not anti-trans. You'll notice they (the ones who were supportive of trans people) were more vocal early in the thread, but began to drop out after the unending onslaught from the haters. m Andrea and Delphyne and their friends have been around for years, and pretty much the only time they comment is when trans women come up, and then they are relentless attack dogs until Twisty finally gets around to shutting it down.

This is pretty much the issue that killed the old IBTP forum, and the same personalities are involved.


Zoe Brain said...

I think I might be making progress with m Andrea.

Once you get her out of Snark mode, she's pretty cluey. She has also been known to admit she's wrong in the past.

I think she was embarrassed by the whole Daly/Raymond thing. I think most of them are, now. Not all, but most.

It's actually been de-railed now into general Feminism. No bad thing.

Caerolle said...

Thanks for the reply, Zoe! :)

NotThisAgain: Well, there are enough rabid anti-trans women ppl there that I won't be following that blog (JustPassingThrough is pretty horrid, as are several others, not Andrea). Plus there is the whole '3rd wavers are sluts and tools of the patriarchy' thing, or as I call it, 'Who's the real feminist?'. I am glad I know about the place, is just another hate site to keep in mind, like The Magazine Project, or NOM, or TVC and such.

Honestly, if I were somewhere and there were two elevators, with a dozen right-wing religious anti-gay ppl in front of one, and just two or three of those anti-trans women ppl from IBTP, I would get in the elevator with the fundies. At least they usually only attack you in your absence, and then only make nasty comments. Those ppl from IBTP would no doubt aggressively verbally attack me at the least, and perhaps even physically assault me as if I were a rapist or something.

The whole bunch is far too hard-core and extreme for me in general anyhows. Which is no surprise, they do call themselves 'radical'.

Anonymous said...

Where can I find these
h8rs and IBTP

Caerolle said...

So looks like 'Twisty' finally showed back up, and not only didn't chastise all the hate speech against trans women, but actually called you a man?