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pangtongshu
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pangtongshu
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I feel like there should be a thread about such a topic, and now there is one.

What are your thoughts on Gender Identity?
[Note: Gender =/= sex]

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Kalaina
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Kalaina
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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.

FishPreferred
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FishPreferred
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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.
Kalaina
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Kalaina
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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.

FishPreferred
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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 â  Gender role
Gender â  Gender identity
Gender = Sex
Kalaina
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Kalaina
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So you disagree with the way the word "gender" is generally used in this context and in so doing you have decided to take an incorrect interpretation of the related arguments and/or fail to explicitly mention that you are shifting the subject to some sort of linguistic debate about whether or not words should men what people use then to mean. I'm not sure that's a productive approach to a discussion.

FishPreferred
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FishPreferred
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So you disagree with the way the word "gender" is generally used in this context and in so doing you have decided to take an incorrect interpretation of the related arguments and/or fail to explicitly mention that you are shifting the subject to some sort of linguistic debate about whether or not words should men what people use then to mean.


On the contrary, I disagree with the way the word "gender" is being misappropriated to fit a largely unrelated definition, and so have decided to correct this error in no uncertain words.

I will give you the benefit of the doubt and suppose that you have actually read as far as page 6 of this discussion, and are just stubbornly refusing to comply with the actual definition of the term. Unfortunately, there isn't much that I can do to aid the productivity of a thread so rife with semantic confusion. I will leave that to you.
Kalaina
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Kalaina
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All right, let's talk about terminology. Given that gender equals sex,

Gender identity is a person's inner sense of the gender role society should ascribe to them.
Gender role is a person's socially ascribed role as related to their gender expression.
Gender expression refers to the ways in which a person expresses their gender identity.

And in spite of the fact that all three of these ideas include the word "gender," none of them necessarily have anything to do with gender.

Furthermore, from an angle of language utility, having two words which mean the exact same thing has less expressive value than having two words which mean different things. As we have no other word to group the concepts of gender identity, role, and expression, yet we do have a word to describe sex (i.e. "sex&quot, the word "gender" is by definition more useful as the former.

Given that language does, in fact, evolve over time, I don't see any particular reason for us to hold the past and present meanings of words sacred. By such an angle in this case, "gender"should still be a purely grammatical construct and should no more be equated to sex than it should to the aforementioned concepts. However, there isn't a whole lot of value in taking such an approach, given that language is first and foremost a communicative tool; the meanings that people collectively ascribe to words should, in my opinion, be more important than the words themselves.

Above all, "gender" in its social definition is a useful term, and not having it makes it significantly more difficult to discuss those social concepts.

FishPreferred
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FishPreferred
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Given that language does, in fact, evolve over time, I don't see any particular reason for us to hold the past and present meanings of words sacred. By such an angle in this case, "gender"should still be a purely grammatical construct and should no more be equated to sex than it should to the aforementioned concepts. However, there isn't a whole lot of value in taking such an approach, given that language is first and foremost a communicative tool; the meanings that people collectively ascribe to words should, in my opinion, be more important than the words themselves.


It is therefore imperative that the words are used in a way that everyone involved in the discussion understands. Your use of the term "gender" in this context is misleading, as we have seen throughout this thread, but gender role and gender identity are clearly distinct in their meaning. You say that having two terms with the same meaning reduces their value, yet you insist upon equating "gender" to these other terms. Certainly we could substitute the term "sex", but that can also be misleading in certain context.

Therefore, the ambiguous "social definition" that a minority group ascribes to the term "gender" is not in any way useful or productive, and we could avoid a great deal of confusion and unnecessary explanation by using less ambiguous terms which are better suited to the discussion of those social concepts.
Kalaina
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Kalaina
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Except that the usage of "gender" in a social context is far more prevalent than in a physical one and is not in fact a term used only by the trans community. In fact, I can't offhand think of a single case in a legitimate context (forms, news articles, etc) where the term has been equated with sex.

The confusion regarding this usage of the word is a lack of comprehension of the social concepts involved rather than a simple misinterpretation of words. Further, would you care to address why you believe "gender identity" is not a person's identity about their gender, why "gender role" is not a role related to a person's gender, and why "gender expression" is not a person's expression of their gender? If you want confusing, that seems like it's a lot more confusing than the alternative.

pangtongshu
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pangtongshu
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In fact, I can't offhand think of a single case in a legitimate context (forms, news articles, etc) where the term has been equated with sex.


Oddly enough, I can't offhand think of a single case in which gender equated to gender identity being used in a legitimate context bar from the LGBT usage of it in such a way.
Kalaina
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Kalaina
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When it comes to forms, a lot of them request gender, sure, and the designers of the forms may not do so with any knowledge that there is a distinction to be made. But what is it they want to know? The vast majority of the time, they don't care about your sex, they care about your gender expression and maybe your gender identity. The few that have reason to care about your sex typically request your sex rather than your gender.

The same is true in other contexts as well. When people use the word gender they may not understand that they aren't explicitly referring to sex, but most of the time they use it to discuss some social aspect rather than to talk about bodies. Of course this isn't always true, but more often than not, it is. If gender = sex, then there are a lot of people misusing the word gender to mean things other than sex.

FishPreferred
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FishPreferred
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Except that the usage of "gender" in a social context is far more prevalent than in a physical one [...]


If you could provide some tangible evidence in support of this outlandish claim, I'd appreciate it.

Further, would you care to address why you believe "gender identity" is not a person's identity about their gender, why "gender role" is not a role related to a person's gender, [...]


Where did you get this idea? "Gender identity" and "gender role" are informative. They are unambiguous. They are easy to interpret. When you truncate them to "gender", you cause needless confusion.

[...] and why "gender expression" is not a person's expression of their gender?


This is correct, because it does not neccessarily relate to an expression of their gender.

When it comes to forms, a lot of them request gender, sure, and the designers of the forms may not do so with any knowledge that there is a distinction to be made.


No. Psychiatric forms aside, they generally have no interest in your gender identity.
If you're in the hospital, waiting to receive treatment for a urinary tract infection, does it matter if you identify as the opposite sex? No.
What do they ask for? Gender.

The same is true in other contexts as well. When people use the word gender they may not understand that they aren't explicitly referring to sex, [...]


Again, you are making the same mistake. They are explicitly referring to sex. [emphasis]That is what gender means!![/emphasis]

If gender = sex, then there are a lot of people misusing the word gender to mean things other than sex.


Precisely.
Kalaina
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Kalaina
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The claim is hardly outlandish, and I think the burden of proof is on you anyway.

Where did you get this idea? "Gender identity" and "gender role" are informative. They are unambiguous. They are easy to interpret. When you truncate them to "gender", you cause needless confusion.


Simple; if a person's gender identity is their identity related to their gender, and gender = sex, then gender identity would as a result be a person's identity related to their sex. Surely you aren't trying to argue that, are you? Same deal for gender role.

No. Psychiatric forms aside, they generally have no interest in your gender identity.
If you're in the hospital, waiting to receive treatment for a urinary tract infection, does it matter if you identify as the opposite sex? No.
What do they ask for? Gender.


Medical care is one context in which they likely do care about sex rather than gender. And what do they ask for? Sex, actually. At least for the forms I've filled out.

Outside of medical care, I can think of one other context where sex is more relevant than gender, and that's in legal matters wherein sex matters for some reason, typically related to the eligibility of social programs/marriage/etc based on sex (whether or not they should be based on sex is a different matter, and the answer there is usually no).

There are plenty of contexts where people care about gender and not sex - marketing, for example. One's preferences are a lot more valuable than one's sex when being marketed to. Or if you're filling out a form for a club or group, your body is a lot less relevant than your presentation, as you're probably going to show up there and are unlikely to have to undergo medical testing when you do.

Again, you are making the same mistake. They are explicitly referring to sex. [emphasis]That is what gender means!![/emphasis]


Typically, they're referring in sum to a false binary wherein all people with female bodies have female preferences and all people with male bodies have male preferences. As that isn't the case, you have to instead consider what aspects of that binary they actually care about. And it's usually not the physical parts. That's what I'm arguing here.

Precisely.


I don't follow. My assertion was that most uses of the word gender refer to things other than sex. This was in contrast to your belief that most uses of the word gender refer to sex. As such, there are a lot of people (as implied, the vast majority of people) using the word gender to mean things other than sex. Are you agreeing with my argument, or just trying to be witty?
twillight2
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Sex (as physical appearance, organs) have to be considered in medical treatment (anatomy and hormons mostly depend on the organs being there), and also designing the enviroment (size of chest determines where you can fit through, what's between your legs determine what is comfortable/healthy to sit on, bodyshape determines what is comfortable/healthy to wear etc.).

Also not to forget we are product of evolution, what for hundreds of millions of years relied on instincts, not on consciousness, so when you see boobs or a ****, that'll very much effect your reactions wether you like it or not.


Gender (as psychological state) comes to play at some medical treatment (this DO HAVE hormon-background and other anatomical reasons wether oyu like it or not), but above all long-term social interactions (like marriage, partner-choice for willful sexual intercourses, friendships).


The meaning of "gender" is currently shifting from &quothysical appearance" to "mental identity", and I think it does it from necessity, and is a good thing.

twillight2
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I have to tell it is ridiculous people can't even write down their names for speech-filters...

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