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Gender Identity

Posted Mar 21, '14 at 2:19am

Pazx

Pazx

4,494 posts

What ideology has been imposed upon others, and by whom?

 

Posted Mar 21, '14 at 8:26pm

Pazx

Pazx

4,494 posts

 

Posted Mar 23, '14 at 7:17pm

Salvidian

Salvidian

3,950 posts

I think everyone is getting way too caught up in terminology anyways.

Agreed. In what real-world situation does it matter what specific gender you are, aside from male, female and other? Nitpicking seems unnecessary.

 

Posted Apr 1, '14 at 12:07pm

Zophia

Zophia

8,407 posts

Moderator

First of all, the tree comparison.
You can not have the gender tree. Trees are a different species (many species, even). You cannot have the gender dog either, because again, different species. Same thing goes for objects.

If a part of your identity is that you genuinely believe that you are something other than human, you can probably be categorized as a type of otherkin. (Wikipedia article - wikipedia is not the best source on the topic but this is not hugely important to my point.)

Second of all, the "I believe I am a catholic but I don't believe in Jesus"... Erm. Then why on Earth would you say you're catholic? What would your reasoning be for wanting to be considered a catholic? This is not a very linear analogy and sounds more like a comparison of what it's like to be closeted (whether in a sexual orientation or a gender identity context) and pretending to be something you aren't to the point where you believe it yourself than it does to wanting to express yourself and live a happier life (which is generally the point of people transitioning).

So.
I've typed up a really long post of trans info. I'm not entirely sure it fits the flow of this thread and may post it as a separate thread because this one got off to an ... uninformed start.

 

Posted Apr 1, '14 at 12:31pm

FishPreferred

FishPreferred

1,545 posts

You can not have the gender tree. Trees are a different species (many species, even). You cannot have the gender dog either, because again, different species. Same thing goes for objects.

You could make up a gender role and call it "tree" or "dog". The fact remains that if one such ideology is accepted, the rest must also be accepted, regardless of how absurd or contrary to the evidence they may be.

Second of all, the "I believe I am a catholic but I don't believe in Jesus"... Erm. Then why on Earth would you say you're catholic? What would your reasoning be for wanting to be considered a catholic?

The reason behind it is irrelevant, but someone who was raised believing that "catholic" means something else could easily make such a claim and wish to be identified as a catholic.

 

Posted Apr 1, '14 at 1:03pm

Zophia

Zophia

8,407 posts

Moderator

You could make up a gender role and call it "tree" or "dog". The fact remains that if one such ideology is accepted, the rest must also be accepted, regardless of how absurd or contrary to the evidence they may be.

You cannot arbitrarily make up a new gender role. Society could eventually come to have more than two accepted gender categories, but unless the majority of the population suddenly decided that tree is on the gender spectrum, it would not be.
Some cultures do or did in the past have more than two, actually, and western society's gender roles are much more washed out nowadays than they have been - this makes some room for non-binary identities.

Anyway, the lack of two completely distinct boxes does not mean you can suddenly throw "tree" in as a gender identity (that's like saying allowing gay marriage will lead to people marrying their dogs).

If you really wanted to, though, you could probably say you feel like a tree as an analogy for a bigendered identity. I'd feel pretty sorry for anyone who genuinely feels like their reproductive organs should literally be flowers, though. That's gotta be stressful, and as this is not, in fact, human anatomy, I would still sort that sort of identity under otherkin.

The reason behind it is irrelevant, but someone who was raised believing that "catholic" means something else could easily make such a claim and wish to be identified as a catholic.

The reason is not irrelevant.

"Catholic" is a label for a religious belief. Like pretty much all other labels, you generally only want to take them on when they're mostly accurate. If you think you've been raised catholic but have actually just been eating crucifix shaped scones for breakfast every sunday because this is your mum's idea of religion, you will probably assume that telling other people that you are catholic lets them know of your scone ritual.

Once someone points out that this is not, in fact, what most people understand "catholic" to mean, you should probably stop using the label to express your like of scones. You could also find like minded people and try to change the meaning of what "catholic" can be to include consumers of crucifix shaped scones. If the main body of people who identify with the label "catholic" cannot agree with this inclusion, you will then probably be better off creating a new label.

Gender roles are subject to a lot of "let's change what it means to be a real man/woman". The meaning of widely acknowledged labels change slowly. New ones appear to define subsets. It's completely fair to want a label to include something it hasn't previously, but it will not magically become the norm and depending on the thing in question, it may not be fair to expect others to accept it.
(Crucifix scone consumption? Unlikely. Wanting to be able to express the social gender you fit into without being ridiculed for it? Currently unlikely, actually, but I really do hope society eventually accepts it.)

As a bonus, I went and made that post a thread.

 

Posted Apr 1, '14 at 2:25pm

Kalaina

Kalaina

23 posts

Before making any argument related to gender or to transgender people, you have to understand gender itself.  Unfortunately, gender isn't at all clearly defined because it's about collective social attitudes (which change over time!).  Expectations related to gender vary across societies and time periods, and fall into varying degrees of moral black or white.

As a particularly unfortunate example, the idea that women are inferior to men and should be subservient is one such expectation of gender.  Of course, in modern society most of us believe that's a totally outmoded view that ruins lives, and anyone can simply look to the feminism movement for extensive reasoning as to why, in what aspects of modern society that is still the case, and ways that we may continue to improve in that regard.

But not all gender roles are quite so insidious.  Why, exactly, do we have the notion that men are typically more dedicated to following sports than are women?  Why, exactly, is it considered perfectly normal for a woman to wear a skirt, but not a man?  Why, exactly, is it normal in some families for the women to hug everyone whilst men shake hands with other men?  Why, exactly, do we default to assuming that the average woman is much better at cooking or sewing than the average man?  Why, exactly, do we raise our children according to these standards?

There are a plethora of exceptions to every single one of those rules.  Yet, there they are.  That's the gender binary, only truly definable through example.  The gender binary exists, regardless of whether or not any individual person thinks it should, and the argument that it doesn't exist is fundamentally different from the argument that it shouldn't.

And all of that is gender.  So what is it about these roles which links them to a child by virtue of a sometimes-arbitrary sex assignment at birth?  Well, not much.  Nothing about having one genital configuration or the other actually compels a person to act in certain ways.  Unfortunately, most of us are assigned such roles arbitrarily before we are even remotely capable of choosing them of our own volition.

Being trans is fundamentally about understanding that you have the power to choose a different role than the one arbitrarily selected for you.  Dysphoria, transitioning, and et cetera are simply pieces of the puzzle.  Being trans is about choice.  A person can make that choice at any point in life, for whatever reasons they have to do so.  To others, it simply shouldn't matter why.

The overwhelming majority people prefer to live in society.  As such, we are all subject to its biases.  One such bias is placing value on the gender binary; masculine men and feminine women are typically viewed as more desirable and perhaps even more important than are feminine men and masculine women.  By virtue of that bias, we are inclined to believe that any arbitrary man we might meet wants to be strong and masculine, and that any arbitrary woman wants to be pretty and feminine.

So what if you don't share those standards?  Good for you, mold breaker!  You can be a champion of breaking down the gender binary.  Go forth and do as you will, and don't answer to anybody!

Well, except that you don't think of your life as a political movement, and you'd really rather not have people staring at you all the time.

But there are other options.  So you look into them, pick the ones you like, don't pick the ones you don't, and you live in a way that you choose.  Congratulations, you're trans.

When people say things like "a man cannot simply decide to be a woman," it's important to scrutinize what exactly they mean by those words.  What exactly do they mean by a "man"?  Presumably, someone with male genitalia.  But perhaps more - perhaps someone who values masculinity and strength and cannot presume to fathom the minds of women.  And what exactly do they mean by "woman"?  Presumably, the complement.

But what exactly is there linking one's specific genitalia to their having those particular values?  Absolutely nothing.  So let's clarify; "Someone with male genitalia cannot simply decide to have feminine values."  This statement is a lot clearer, and is explicitly false.  A person can have whatever values they want to have.  Let's try the other three permutations:

"A person with male genitalia cannot simply decide to have female genitalia."
"A person with masculine values cannot simply decide to have feminine values."
"A person with masculine values cannot simply decide to have female genitalia."

The first is a matter of the limitations of our technology, not of gender itself.  The second is at base absurd, though it is necessary to point out that masculinity and femininity are in no way opposites.  The third is in the realm of sexual fantasy and suffice to say there is plenty of information to be had regarding whether or not a person who falls into such a category should physically transition (i.e. "no," and most do not).

So if all four potential interpretations of that statement are incorrect, unrelated, or nonsensical, it is probably safe to say that the statement itself is in turn false.  There are probably other ways to look at that statement, but I'm sure they would fall into the same categories under scrutiny.

Of course, gender runs ever deeper.  As it turns out, gender is more like an axis in ten dimensions than it is a binary.  And a person's choice of identity is theirs and theirs alone.  Their choice of terminology is theirs, as well, and the choice of specificity is often due to a need to have an identity respected rather than glossed over.

In short, the gender binary is a real thing with real effects on people's lives; people can have whatever personal values that they wish, irrespective of the gender role arbitrarily prescribed to them at birth; in the vast majority of contexts, there is much less conceptual meaningfulness in grouping people by arbitrary physical traits than there is in grouping people by social roles and values; and taken altogether, trans people exist, their concerns are legitimate, and there is very little reason to marginalize them save for ideologies rooted in xenophobia.

And above all, a person's gender is their decision, not yours.

 

Posted Apr 1, '14 at 8:53pm

FishPreferred

FishPreferred

1,545 posts

You cannot arbitrarily make up a new gender role. Society could eventually come to have more than two accepted gender categories, but unless the majority of the population suddenly decided that tree is on the gender spectrum, it would not be.

Then society dictates what it is acceptible for someone to be. Why should it control the number of classes, but not the qualities of those classes?

[...] (that's like saying allowing gay marriage will lead to people marrying their dogs).

No. Your analogy is a slippery slope argument, better applied to the reverse statement. What I am saying is that by demanding the acceptance of one thing on the grounds of personal ideology, you are obligated to accept all others on the same grounds.

The reason is not irrelevant.

If we replace "eating crucifix shaped sconesfor breakfast" with "shoving crayons up your nose", your example would convey the same meaning. Therefore, the reason is irrelevant, so I'm not sure what you're getting at.

As it turns out, gender is more like an axis in ten dimensions than it is a binary.

Wrong. Gender in humans is defined by the presence or absence of functional SRY and FOXL2 units. Anything else, such as having both or neither, is a rare aberration.

And above all, a person's gender is their decision, not yours.

Wrong again. Gender is not a decision. Gender identity isn't necessarily one either.

 

Posted Apr 2, '14 at 12:00am

Kalaina

Kalaina

23 posts

Gender is social, and SRY and FOXL2 are sex traits.  You can't define a social role by physical traits, which was basically my point.  I don't need to make the terminology distinction between sex and gender, do I?  Unless you legitimately believe that e.g. liking to wear skirts is written into the human genome...?

Assuming that you mean sex in your statement that "Gender is not a decision," that's an interesting point.  Rather than reinvent the argument wheel, let me just link you to this: http://skepchick.org/2011/12/bilaterally-gynandromorphic-chickens-and-why-im-not-scientifically-male/

I'd also argue that while gender identity isn't all that much of a decision, the essence of gender - i.e. in what way a person chooses to present to other people - is very much a decision, even if it is typically an easy one.

 

Posted Apr 2, '14 at 12:46pm

FishPreferred

FishPreferred

1,545 posts

I don't need to make the terminology distinction between sex and gender, do I?

You don't, because there is no such distinction.
Gender ≠ Gender role
Gender ≠ Gender identity
Gender = Sex

 
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