Thursday, November 29, 2018

Which Is It?

Is it really a matter of what is is? Some things are factual and obvious—and yet denied with defiance.

graphic from here
I’m talking about gender—or rather, sex. Gender is mainly “the formal classification by which nouns and pronouns (and often accompanying modifiers) are grouped and inflected, or changed in form, so as to control certain syntactic relationships,” as my vintage Webster explains. English doesn’t bother with gender so much, but it’s common in Spanish, French, and other languages. The two options are masculine and feminine, unless a word is neutral. These terms don’t necessarily relate to sex. For example, la mesa doesn’t imply that a table relates to women, nor does el cuarto imply that a room relates to men.

If you keep reading, Webster explains that gender also can be used as a transitive verb (a verb with an object)—really a shortened version of engender—used in genetics, to refer to “units occurring at specific points on the chromosomes, by which hereditary characters are transmitted and determined.” It doesn’t even necessarily relate to whether it’s on an X or Y chromosome.

Hidden at the end of the main noun entry, Webster mentions that gender is a colloquial term for sex.

So I looked up sex: “either of the two divisions, male or female, into which persons, animals, or plants are divided, with reference to their reproductive functions.” Plus, of course, the obvious other meanings of the word sex.

Controllers of language have a lot of power. Someone invented the relatively new meaning of gender to be something completely apart from language gender, and also different from human biology, related to something internal in the mind.

The phrase “It’s all in your head” used to mean something different and rather condescending. Now it’s considered something of so much overarching importance that it requires the world to bow to it as a new reality.

That’s a problem for people who value truth. (For people who value family and a number of other things as well, but we have to limit a blog post to some reasonable length.)

There’s a contradiction going on. There’s a claim that a person can be born biologically one kind of human and not actually be that kind of human—but that understanding is an inborn, immutable characteristic that the person discovers about him/herself. And therefore we need to be open to a person’s choice about which kind of human to be. But if it’s a choice, it’s not an inborn immutable characteristic. Right?

Earlier this month Jordan Peterson—who came to fame by refusing to use invented unnatural pronouns being imposed by the Canadian government in the first instance of compelled speech since the invention of British Common Law—was asked to deal with this contradiction in a Q&A in The Netherlands.

Jordan Peterson, left
screen shot from here

He starts out giving Canada’s Bill C 16 as an example of needing to look deeper when deciding your stance on an issue. The host, in The Netherlands, used this as a springboard for further discussion, not on compelled speech, but on transgender rights (at around 14-21 minutes):

Host: I don’t know if you know, but in The Netherlands, three weeks ago the first official non-gender passport was given to a Dutch citizen. At the same time, in the US, of course, the new Trump bill, which considers to narrowly define gender as something that’s immutable and that’s totally based on genitalia at birth, is now the potential law. So, if you had to choose between these two laws, which one would you pick?
We’ll forgive someone from another country for not knowing how our laws work. President Trump does not put forth bills; the legislative branch does that. What he’s referring to is a definition to be used by the executive branch pertaining to already existing laws. The Department of Health and Human Services sent out a memo, which was passed on to news outlets, directing that government agencies adopt a definition of gender that is determined "on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable." 

OK, back to the discussion:

JP: Well, if you’re transgendered, is it immutable?
Host: (long pause) I don’t know.
JP: Right. Neither does anyone else. And so there’s tremendous incoherencies in the theory. So, at the moment, for example, it’s perfectly reasonable to formulate the proposition—and this is very characteristic of, let’s say, the ideological types who drove Bill C 16—to say you can be a man born in a woman’s body, which is a biologically determinist argument, and to say that gender is socially constructed, and to say that it’s a personal choice. It’s like, sorry, all three of those things cannot simultaneously be true. So, there’s going to be a variety of legislative responses to that, but mostly it’s just incoherent.
And I also think that it’s driven by something deeper. It’s driven at least in part by the desire to destabilize traditional perceptual and cognitive categories. And I see that as part of an assault on the idea of categorization itself. It’s been undertaken with a fair bit of success in the universities since the 1970s. And so, generally speaking, I’m opposed to such things. I don’t believe that introducing confusion about gender identity into the lives of young people at an early age is going to have a net positive consequence. We’ll see. But I doubt it.
He sidesteps the proposed choice between the two bills—the question designed to put him on record as either opposing or supporting Trump.

Host: But wouldn’t you also be against the Trump bill, because, as you said, it’s also a way in which the law compels a certain identity upon you, which is the reason you opposed Bill C 16? So, how would you go about—what is your position on this?
JP: I opposed Bill C 16 because it compelled my speech in a particular manner.
Host: Yeah.
JP: It wasn’t that it compelled an identity on me. It was very specific, in that, in the entire history of English common law, there has never been legislation that required people to utter particular phrases.
And he simply goes on with the explanation about compelled speech that he has been making for a solid couple of years.

The contradiction he points out interests me. He divides it into three possibilities:

·         A man being born into a woman’s body, for example, is biologically determined.
·         Gender is socially constructed.
·         Gender is a choice.
They are mutually exclusive. If it’s biologically determined, there’s no choice about it; there is simply discovering whatever evidence overwhelms the obvious reproductive biology. If it’s socially constructed, there’s no choice about it—unless you invent some way to deconstruct whatever social construct there was. (And do you do that individually or societally as a whole?) So we’re supposed to let a person choose that choice that they don’t really have, and then respect their choice?

And if you don’t do exactly that, you can be prosecuted in Canada, bounced from Twitter, silenced on Facebook or YouTube, fired from your job, and blacklisted from future employment.

Or lose custody of your child.

image from here
For example, there’s a father whose six-year-old son, James, insists he is a boy when he is with his father, but allows himself to be dressed and presented as a girl, Luna, when with his mother. She is trying to both take away visitation from the father and force him to pay for the transgender-affirming doctor she has chosen. So the boy does not consistently express gender dysphoria symptoms, nor consistently assert that he is the opposite gender from his biology; rather, he displays symptoms of tragically sad attempts to try and please a misguided mother. And if the mother isn’t stopped, within two years the boy could be started on hormonal therapy that will alter his life forever. (Another story on this case here.)

Matt Walsh responded to Twitter’s banning of anything transgenders disagree with by asking a question—in violation of Twitter’s rules, but so far without getting banned:

Rather than simply arguing my case, as I’ve argued a million times, that men are men and women are women—which is, again, a banned statement on Twitter—I figured that, rather than simply do that, I figured that I’d give the other side of this debate a chance to explain themselves….
So, this is the tweet that I sent last night. I said, “I invite anyone on Twitter to explain in clear and specific detail how precisely a biological male can come to know that he is really a woman? How does he arrive at this conclusion? On what basis? With what evidence to support it? Again, I invite anyone to explain. Thank you.”
Now, this really is the fundamental question, isn’t it? You have biological men who have at some point come to realize, or know, or understand or whatever, that they are really women. OK? So, how does that work exactly? I would think that this question should be really easy to answer, if you believe that transgenderism is an actual thing, like it’s really possible for a man to, in some sense, be a woman and to come to that realization. Then I would think it would be really easy to explain. Shouldn’t it?
And if, in fact, this point of view is not anti-science, then, again, you should be able to explain it scientifically.
And I posed this question. It’s a fair question, not a trick question. And hours went by without anyone even trying to answer it. Instead you had liberals just telling me that I was a bigot for even asking the question to begin with.
That’s the biology question, really. Is there evidence? Can you produce it? There is overwhelming evidence the other way, which Jordan Peterson provides:

So, here’s the argument: biological sex, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual preference are independent. OK. They’re not. The definition of dependent is there’s a strong statistical relationship between them. Could be correlational. Could be causal. It is in fact causal. It’s also correlational. There’s an unbelievably tight linkage, so that the overwhelming majority of people who are a particular biological sex identify with that sex. It’s 99.97%. OK.
The overwhelming majority of people who are of a given biological sex and an isomorphic gender identity express their gender in accordance with those two fundamental elements of their identity. And that would be more, something in the range of 95%, assuming that one in twenty is playing with fashion in self-presentation in a gender bending manner—which is not uncommon; that’s been going on for a very long time.
And then, of the people who are of a given biological sex, the isomorphic gender identity, and who present themselves that way, the overwhelming majority are heterosexual. That is not independent. It’s the very opposite of independent, even though that’s not now the law.
As he sums it up,

The idea that biology doesn’t play a strong role in influencing phenomena at every one of those levels of analysis is absolutely preposterous. And that’s pushed very hard by the social constructionists. And I think that’s reprehensible. It flies in the face of anything reasonably defined as fact. And it does no one any favors—not least because you can’t say, “Well, you’re a man born in a woman’s body.” It’s like, well, is that a biologically determinist argument? Yes or no? So what are we saying? “You can be a man born in a woman’s body, and that’s biological, but if you’re a woman born in a woman’s body, that’s socially constructed?” Really? That’s supposed to be an argument? It’s beyond preposterous.
What do people who look these facts in the face and lie about them have to gain? I have my suspicions. Especially when they align, as Dr. Peterson has pointed out, with cultural Marxists. Those people are about gaining power over others. We must resist them, even as we find ways to both coexist with and be kind to the tiny cohort of people who have gender dysphoria. Neither they nor those using them should we allow to control our thoughts, our speech, or our recognition of truth.


  1. Thank you for this. You might also enjoy reading this scholarly analysis of the genesis of gender jargon, in its current faddish use. Dr. Haig is a professor of evolutionary biology at Harvard. He analyzed peer-reviewed texts and traced the idea of "gender" as a brain-sex separate from biological reality to postmodernist academia and burgeoning queer studies in the 1990s building on the now discredited theories of Dr. John Money (whose unethical experimentations on the Reimer twins hastened their demise).

  2. Thanks for the added info. I look forward to checking it out.