Gender Identiy and Gender Dysphoria: An opinion on trans issues
Joshua Mitchell / June 30, 2020
7 min read
- I am speaking for myself and voicing my thoughts only
- I have strong opinions but hold them weakly (if I run into contrary evidence or an enlightening point of view, I will not hesitate to update my opinion)
- I don't necessarily fully agree with the following text - these are thoughts meant to stimulate discussion
Are Transgender People the Gender They Decide?#
In order to answer this question, let's make some initial assumptions.
- Male: has XY chromosomes
- Female: has XX chromosomes
- Man: Human adult male
- Woman: Human adult female
These definitions break down in a variety of ways. An incomplete list of examples:
- Humans with different chromosomes (X, XXY, YY, etc)
- Humans with common chromosomes (XY, XX), but with genitals that don't match
- Humans with common chromosomes and matching genitals, but don't match in another way (e.g. emotional, hormonal, or psychological dysphoria)
Hence, I think it's appropriate to expand our vocabulary to accommodate everyone. How should we do that?
There are two different perspectives I can think of:
- scientific (male/female) and
- sociological (man/woman --> he/she)
The Scientific Perspective#
We have definitions for male, female, and neither. I'm no biologist, so I'm not going to try and map out a taxonomy.
However, I'm sure that, for at least 99.9999% of people, we have a definition that respects and acknowledges your biology. Even if it's neither male nor female.
You are whatever you happen to be, according to the definitions.
To be clear, there is nothing wrong with whatever a person is, biologically. We all come in different shapes and sizes, and nobody should be put down or invalidated based on how they were born.
That being said, I do believe that you are misrepresenting yourself if you tell people that you belong to a scientific category other than the one you belong to, biologically speaking.
The Sociological Perspective#
However! Sociologically speaking, I think it's a totally different ball game.
I don't think it's reasonable to say that a woman/man is an adult human that is
- emotionally, and
female/male, and that's that.
You run into issues. What about
- man who lost his testicles?
- a woman who is hormonally male?
- a person with both male and female genitals but otherwise has a female body?
These are all real and totally valid groups of people.
Because of these circumstances, I think we should loosen the definition of man (he/him) and woman (she/her) from "AND" to "OR" - you are a man/woman if you are
- biologically OR
- physically OR
- chemically OR
- emotionally OR
These new definitions allow the flexibility for people align themselves with whatever they happen to be.
- If you think you're a woman, you're a woman and your pronouns are she/her.
- If you think you're a man, then you're a man and your pronouns are he/him.
- If you think you're neither, then you're neither and your pronouns are they/them.
Under What Circumstances Should Custom Pronouns Be Acknowledged?#
- you agree with the above definitions,
- you've decided what you are, and
- the pronouns you picked happen to be "out of the ordinary"
To what extent should everyone else conform, legally or otherwise? I can think of three scenarios:
- You tell someone what your pronouns are, and they recognize your request. Awesome.
I would consider this polite - like holding the door for someone. Not legally required, but if you don't do it, you enter a gray area called "Suspected Asshole".
- You tell someone what your pronouns are, and they don't recognize your request (with mal-intent).
This person is probably a douchebag and, assuming you can prove mal-intent, I think this falls into the category of harassment. I view this at the same level of "bad" as cat-calling.
- You tell someone what your pronouns are, and they don't recognize your request (with no mal-intent).
This person is neither trying to validate nor invalidate you. They only believe what you are saying is inaccurate.
Even if it feels like a personal attack to you (because it is personal to you), to them it might be inaccurate marketing - like Toyota marketing themselves as reliable. Toyotas are reliable, but this person's Toyotas always broke down.
I don't believe this person should be legally compelled to call you by your preferred pronoun, since
- pronouns are a subjective matter, and
- there is no mal-intent (this is an assumption the scenario makes)
I think this falls under the category of free speech, and it's probably best to socially distance yourself from this person as much as you can.
Who Gets to Use What Bathroom?#
I don't consider myself educated about trans issues, but the most common issue I hear about is the "bathroom" issue:
- Should trans people be able to use the bathroom for the gender they assigned themselves to be?
- What about the people who are uncomfortable with this, who also use that bathroom?
- What about the bad actors - the ones who don't actually believe they are that gender, they just want an excuse to be creepy and use the bathroom they want to use?
I believe my views might be a tad contrarian, so I'll give some background first:
I am body and sex positive. I believe there is nothing wrong with the way anyone's body looks, and I don't think there's anything wrong with what two consenting adults do with each other.
So, I'm all for unisex bathrooms. I think anyone should be able to use whatever bathroom they're comfortable using.
As far as people who are uncomfortable, I can see two reasons for discomfort:
- Sexual discomfort - the idea of using the bathroom where the person in the other stall has different genitals is weird.
- Security concerns - what if I'm a woman and a big man comes in with malicious intent?
I think that's just something that needs to be gotten over.
It's just a body. We all have bodies. Some of them are different than yours. Big whoop.
This reminds me of racial profiling. I don't think someone different than you using the bathroom is probable cause for concern.
The vast majority of the time, anyone in the bathroom with you is there to use the bathroom, not to harm you.
Of course, if you suspect foul play, then yeah, get out of there. If it's pretty obvious, call the police.
However, I don't think it's fair to excommunicate an entire class of people from using the bathroom.
To wrap things up, here's a bullet point summary of my current thoughts:
- People should be able to decide what they are socially, but that doesn't change what they are biologically.
- Because of freedom of speech, you don't have the right to command people to use your own custom pronouns - but it is polite and you should probably respect peoples' wishes for them to be used.
- People should be able to use whatever bathroom they want.